Rohingya Refugee Crisis: Fast Facts

Since August 2017, thousands of Rohingya people have escaped horrific violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and continue to face mounting challenges abroad. Learn where the Rohingya refugees are today and how you can help through community-led relief efforts.


1. The largest exodus began in Aug. 2017.

On Aug. 25, 2017, a small group of Rohingya insurgents linked to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army conducted a coordinated attack against roughly 30 police outposts in the Rakhine state in western Myanmar.

Myanmar’s military and Buddhist extremist groups responded with massive-scale violence against Rohingya villages and communities. Entire villages were burned to the ground. More than 742,000 Rohingya people—half of them children—fled to Bangladesh and other neighboring countries on dangerous jungle and sea routes to seek
Source: The New York Times + UNHCR

2. The Rohingya Crisis is not new.

Conflict between the Myanmar government and the Rohingya Muslim community can be traced back to the 1970s. Conflict and discrimination in Myanmar date back even further to its time under British colonial rule until 1948. Colonialism caused a series of conflicts in Myanmar, leaving the Rohingya people in a stateless category where they could not enjoy basic human rights such as education, freedom of movement, or marriage.

Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a place many Rohingya called home for generations, had already driven thousands of Muslim Rohingya from their lives and communities in the predominantly Buddhist country before the 2017 conflict.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

You can help meet urgent needs with a donation to GlobalGiving’s Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund. Your donation will be sent to GlobalGiving partners on the front lines of the crisis.


3. More than 1 million people have been forced from their homes.

1.1 million Rohingya people previously called Myanmar’s Rakhine state home. Rakhine’s lush and hilly landscape runs along west Myanmar and the Bangladesh border. Although many Rohingya lived and worked on this land for generations, the Myanmar government continues to insist that all Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The state refuses to recognize them as citizens, effectively rendering most of them stateless.

More than 980,000 Rohingya people escaped Myanmar’s borders to seek sanctuary in Bangladesh and neighboring countries since the conflict started in 2017. But the perilous journeys to safety didn’t halt in 2017. In fact, 2023 was the deadliest year for Rohingya feeling by sea. An additional 1.95 million are still displaced within Myanmar to this day.
Source: Human Rights Watch + UNHCR + Amnesty International + Aljazeera

4. About 95% of Rohingya people in Bangladesh rely on humanitarian assistance.

The Rohingya may have escaped death in Myanmar, but a slew of challenges followed them to the crowded, unhygienic, and underfunded refugee encampments prone to fire and flood. Mounting challenges like malnutrition, inadequate education opportunities, exploitation, and child labor keep 95% of Rohingya trapped in a cycle of aid that refugee-led organizations are working hard to end.

As the Rohingya crisis falls from the international spotlight, the UNHCR warns that funding shortfalls will have dire implications for the Rohingya people.
Source: Aljazeera

Nonprofits like the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APPRN) work with refugee-led organizations to provide education and disaster-risk management to combat some of the compounding challenges.

5. The dengue virus plagues refugees each year.

The refugee camp Cox’s Bazar is the second dengue ‘hotspot’ in Bangladesh. Nonprofits like Friendship test and treat Rohingya for dengue fever. Friendship has developed a strong network of health facilities in Cox’s Bazar over the years, creating access to reliable health care for around 400,000 Rohingya and host community members. Friendship’s facilities are the largest and most reliable healthcare networks for Rohingya and host communities in Cox’s Bazar.

6. GlobalGiving partners power community-led responses to address urgent and long-term needs.

The Rohingya refugee crisis reminds us that asylum alone does not equate to safety—let alone substantial moments of actual refuge. The Rohingya need holistic and thoughtful approaches that support them on all levels.

GlobalGiving’s disaster response team is working with local responding partners like Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), Malaysian Relief Agency (MRA), Yayasan Dompet Dhuafa Republika, and Mobile Mini Circus for Children to offer holistic programs that center both immediate needs and help address the deep traumas they’ve endured.

These nonprofits and more are included in GlobalGiving’s Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund, which has mobilized more than $700,000 in donation to organizations addressing the urgent and long-term needs of Rohingya as durable solutions remain elusive.

7. Cash is the best way to help people in need during a humanitarian crisis like the Rohingya crisis.

Why? Survivors’ needs vary greatly throughout the life cycle of recovery. Some will require financial support, medical care, and psychological assistance years down the road. You can learn more about the importance of cash donations in this infographic.
Source: GlobalGiving + USAID Center for International Disaster Information

You can help meet urgent needs with a donation to GlobalGiving’s Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund. Your donation will be sent to GlobalGiving partners on the front lines of the crisis.


Featured Photo: Save the Rohingya by OBAT Helpers

This story was originally published on Sept. 1, 2017 and updated on April. 5, 2024.

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