Refugee Problem


  • Almost 90 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries. Eight countries host more than half the world’s refugees.
  • Just 10 countries provide 75 per cent of the UN’s budget to ease and resolve their plight.
Why Migration happens?
  • War, human rights violations, underdevelopment, climate change and natural disasters are leading more people to leave their homes .
  • Migrants  have also left their countries in search of better opportunities or simply for survival.
What does India do with asylum seekers?
India offers asylum to a large number of refugees, but it is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention
New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants
  • Adopted at UNGA
  • The declaration expresses the political will of world leaders to protect the rights of refugees and migrants to save lives and share responsibility for large movements on a global scale
  • Commitments made are:
      • Protect human rights of all refugees and migrants. It includes rights of girls and women and also promote their full, equal and their meaningful participation to find solutions.
      • Ensure that all refugee and migrant children receive education within few months of arrival.
      • Prevent and respond to gender-based and sexual violence.
      • Support countries receiving, rescuing and hosting large numbers of refugees and migrants
      • Condemn strongly xenophobia against refugees and migrants and support global campaign to counter it.
      • Strengthen positive contributions made by migrants for their social and economic development in their host countries.
      • Improve delivery of humanitarian and development assistance through innovative multilateral financial solutions to those countries most affected.
      • Strengthen global governance of migration by bringing  the International Organization for Migration (IOM) into the UN system.
Critically examine the causes, consequences and remedies of World’s recent Refugee crisis. (200 Words)
Civil wars and persecution of certain groups have precipitated the global refugee crisis into the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world. According to Amnesty International, there are around 50 million global refugees right now.
  1. Instability in the West Asia – There is great instability in the west Asia. War between the ISIS and Kurdish rebels in Iraq and Syria, attacks by Saudi Arabia on Houthi rebels in Yemen, the civil War in Syria. All of them combined to displace a large number of people from these countries.
  2. Economic Reasons – A large number of refugees from Africa have been forced to leave their countries in search of opportunities abroad, primarily in Europe.
  3. State Persecution Rohingyas are a sect of Muslims who claim they are original inhibitors of the Rakhine, a state in Myanmar. However, Myanmar considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and has withdrawn citizenship rights from the Rohingyas. This has forced Rohingyas to flee to other countries.
  4. Climate Change – Low lying island nations are threatened by rising sea levels and forced to leave their countries. Such refugees are known as Environmental refugee.

  1. The refugees also have an impact on the economy and society of their host nations. Large number of refugees can have a devastation impact on the host nation. The Indo-Pak war of 1971 was caused primarily due to the refugee problem.
  2. Large number of refugees actually loses their lives while trying to reach different countries which might take them.
  3. They could be used by terrorist organisations, sex or slave trade etc., thus denial of basic human rights, disruption of global peace
  4. Pressure on neighboring countries e.g.: Around half of the population in Syria got displaced and most them have entered into Turkey, Jordan.
  1. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) must be empowered with budgetary resources to tackle the problem at a war footing.
  2. All states should put in place comprehensive refugee policy to avoid ad-hoc measures in line with the UN convention.
  3. Moral and diplomatic persuasion to stop persecution and promote reconciliation among stakeholder in various countries such as Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh to avoid migration of people.
  4. Diplomatic pressure from powerful nations and organisation such as UNHCR as seen in recent cases where Indonesia and Malaysia have accommodated refugees on temporary basis.
It has to be accepted that there is a glaring failure in dealing with refugee problem at the global level. There is a visible apathy on the part of big powers to see this as a humanitarian crisis. This apathy is one reason why many Rohingyas died enroute  rowing while fleeing from Myanmar to countries like Malaysia and Australia. Silver lining is that there is already established institution in the form of UNHCR to deal with the issue. But it has to be given more teeth and power.

[Richer countries in the west and Asia-pacific should find more room for refugees in order to share the burden more equitably as at present, 86 % of all the refugees are in developing countries which lack infrastructure and resources to tackle the challenge. There has to be more meaningful efforts, driven not by merely geopolitical calculations, but by moral, humanitarian conviction to solve the crisis.]

What are the problems faced by Rohingya minority community in Myanmar and what should be India’s response to this crisis?
 The Rohingya are a Muslim minority ethnic to Myanmar living in northern Arakan/ Rakhine State in the western part of the country. Despite numbering at about 1.33 million, Myanmar’s citizenship laws deny them citizenship rights and treat them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. As a consequence, for years this community has been at the receiving end of discrimination and persecution within Myanmar at the hands of the Buddhist majority.
In order to escape this persecution and to search for a better life, the Rohingyas try to enter the neighbouring countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and India via land/sea routes. However, on account of their statelessness, most countries are reluctant to consider the Rohingyas as refugees and often label them as economic migrants. They are, in fact, forcibly pushed back by these states as they are often considered to a socio-economic and security threat. This international isolation makes the Rohingyas vulnerable to a wide variety of human rights abuses including – trafficking, prostitution and forced labour.
India unlike the other regional powers, has taken a humanitarian approach to the influx of the Rohingyas. In fact, alongside Malaysia, India is the only country in the region which grants refugee status to Rohingyas. While, some Rohingyas has managed to enter India undetected via Bangladesh, a vast majority are detained under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and are sent to the Tihar jail, over which the UNHCR has jurisdiction. After due processing, they proceed to a refugee camp in Jammu.
However, the regular influx will eventually give rise to logistical problems for India, for it doesn’t have the resources to house a large number of Rohingyas. India being non-signatory to UN Convention relating to the status of Refuges, Government deals on case to case basis. Majority of them living in refugee camps with inhumane conditions and some NGOs voluntarily helping them out.
The Rohingya problem, if not immediately solved, can have repercussions for the entire region. On account of being unemployed, the Rohingya youth remain in a state of frustration and this could provide fertile grounds for indoctrination by militant outfits.
The need of the hour calls for international cooperation. In the short term, first step would be to recognize the refugee status of the Rohingyas by all regional powers. This is to prevent crisis such as the recent on, where a boat with hundreds Rohingyas on board was found drifting in high sea because no state in the region is willing to accept them. In the long term, the international community needs to make Myanmar aware that the responsibility of the Rohingyas’ safety and welfare lies on it.
“Vulnerable people around the world are moving in search of safety and dignity, fleeing persecution, abject poverty, deprivation, discrimination and abuse.” Elaborate and suggest what needs to be done by international organisations and nearby countries. (200 Words)
Rise of terrorism and persecution (IS), ethnic discrimination (Rohingyas), wars (Syria, palestein, yemen) etc. forcing thousands of people in search of shelter, dignity, safety and security. In the absence of any strong political support within their own countries, huge responsibility lies with international organization, neighbouring countries and regional powers.
  1. Neighbouring nations may share the responsibility through dialogue for providing immediate shelter to refugees since it would be difficult for any one nation to absorb all of them. ASEAN nations may well leverage their economic position to push Myanmar for a settlement in the Rohingya problem.
  2. Since nations are dependent on their neighbours for trade, investment, international transit route etc. this can be used to solve the crisis.
  3. Regional powers, with immense economic clout and dependence of the nations on them for economy and security, may leverage their position. Pressure from USA and western powers will accelerate the solution of long festering palestein problem.
  4. International organisations like FAO, UNICEF, WHO etc. should provide immediate humanitarian assistance. UN should put moral pressure on international community to use their financial and diplomatic position to solve the crisis.
It’s time for a global convention for a policy towards international refugees and institutional mechanism to deal with the issue.



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