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Years of deadlock between the two main political parties, the Awami League and the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, have caused governance breakdowns, narrowed political debate, eroded the rule of law and widened social divisions. The continued threat of jihadist violence      exacerbates these problems. Meanwhile, Bangladesh struggles to accommodate the presence of an estimated one million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, whose return appears unlikely any time soon. Crisis Group aims to reduce conflict risks, including the spread of militancy, arising from political stagnation; to promote inclusive and accountable democratic institutions; and to urge adequate assistance for the refugees until conditions allow for safe return.

CrisisWatch Bangladesh

Unchanged Situation

Govt began moving Rohingya refugees to island in Bay of Bengal despite concerns over living conditions, while violence broke out in Chittagong Hill Tracts. Govt 3-4 Dec transported 1,642 Rohingya refugees from Cox’s Bazar district to Bhasan Char island – silt island in Bay of Bengal – despite concerns of UN, donor govts and international organisations that it is prone to flooding and lacks services, and amid allegations that some refugees had been coerced to go. Ahead of transfer, UN statement 2 Dec called on govt to allow refugees “to make a free and informed decision” about relocating and to provide them with basic services and free movement “to and from the mainland”. MFA 4 Dec emphasised that relocation was part of broader repatriation plan and called on human rights groups to help create “a conducive environment” within Myanmar to allow for a “quick, safe and dignified repatriation”; govt 29 Dec proceeded to transfer second batch of 1,804 refugees to island. Meanwhile, sporadic violence erupted in three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts 23 years after Parabatya Jana Samhati Samity, representing ethnic minority groups, and then Awami League govt signed 1997 peace accord. Authorities accused armed groups opposing peace accord of factional violence and attacks on Bengali settlers and security forces, including shootout with military 3 Dec that allegedly killed member of anti-accord group United Peoples Democratic Front in Rangamati district; police 13 Dec accused armed hill militants of attacking security forces in Rangamati district, resulting in one attacker killed. NGO Amnesty International 11 Dec said lack of progress in implementing human rights provisions of peace accord behind local grievances. Indian border forces 7 and 14 Dec killed three Bangladeshi cattle smugglers; opposition Bangladesh National Party’s secretary general 14 Dec announced intention to hold countrywide protests against Indian security forces’ “indiscriminate killings” of Bangladeshis, holding ruling Awami League’s policy toward India responsible for deaths. PM Hasina 17 Dec hosted virtual summit with India’s PM Modi during which both leaders signed seven agreements on bilateral cooperation and directed border forces “to work towards bringing such border incidents to zero”.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

16 Dec 2016
These organizations [in Bangladesh] — whether they’re jihadists or student wings of parties like Jamaat-e-Islami — they’re becoming more attractive avenues of opposition. Foreign Policy

Shehryar Fazli

Former Senior Analyst and Regional Editor, South Asia

Latest Updates

Op-Ed / Asia

Rohingya Deserve Non-violent Leadership

Originally published in Asia Times

Report / Asia

The Long Haul Ahead for Myanmar’s Rohingya Refugee Crisis

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees from brutal military operations in Myanmar are stuck in Bangladesh, with returns to Myanmar unlikely soon and Bangladeshi goodwill being tested. In Myanmar, international partners must be allowed access to northern Rakhine State. In Bangladesh, donors must help both refugees and their local hosts.

Also available in Burmese, 简体中文
Commentary / Asia

Myanmar/Bangladesh: A Humanitarian Calamity and a Two-country Crisis

More than one million Muslim Rohingya forced to flee from Myanmar now live in camps in south-eastern Bangladesh. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2018, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to increase funding for refugee assistance and use diplomatic leverage to find a compromise on the issue of refugee repatriation.

Report / Asia

Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis Enters a Dangerous New Phase

The mass flight of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar’s Rakhine State has created a humanitarian catastrophe and serious security risks, including potential cross-border militant attacks. The international community should press the Myanmar government to urgently implement the Annan commission’s proposals, including as regards discrimination, segregation and citizenship.