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 faced mounting economic challenges as opposition activity remained in lull, Myanmar’s conflict continued to spill over border, and peace talks in Chittagong Hill Tracts resumed with ethnic armed group.

Economic hardship persisted as opposition mobilisation remained subdued. Activity of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its allies remained at low ebb due to difficulties of mobilising during Ramadan, although BNP may attempt to resume large-scale anti-govt demonstrations from late April or May, potentially prompting renewed crackdown. Govt meanwhile faced challenges of high inflation and rapidly increasing food prices: PM Sheikh Hasina 6 March instructed Rapid Action Battalion to intensify campaigns against food hoarders and 15 March fixed prices for 29 agricultural products. Due to depleted foreign currency to pay for energy imports, power shortages continued and could increase in summer amid higher temperatures. 

Hostilities in Myanmar spilt over border, raising prospect of new refugee influx. Myanmar’s military 5 March carried out airstrikes close to border, causing panic among Bangladeshi residents. Over 175 Myanmar Border Guard Police members 12 March crossed into Bangladesh’s Bandarban district to escape Arakan Army’s offensive in Rakhine state (see Myanmar). Conflict continued to raise prospect of new influx of Rohingya fleeing violence as hundreds, possibly thousands, gather in boats along Naf River; Dhaka, however, insisted no new refugees will be accepted and detained over 400 Rohingya. Authorities 1 March relocated 1,141 Rohingya from Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char island, which now hosts 30,000. Rohingya continue to die at sea trying to flee: boat carrying estimated 150 Rohingya 20 March capsized off Indonesia’s Aceh, with only 75 rescued.   

Peace talks resumed in Chittagong Hill Tracts in south east. Govt delegation and Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) – which claims to represent six Kuki-Chin subgroups, largest of which is Bawm – 5 March held face-to-face talks after first round in Nov. KNF issued six demands, including establishing Kuki-Chin territorial council; two sides reportedly agreed to meet in April, while KNF pledged to refrain from conducting attacks in meantime. If govt rejects KNF’s demands, communal tensions between Bawm and Marma communities could escalate, risking deadly clashes and further involvement of army or other armed groups. 

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In The News

7 Հուն 2024
There is a risk of increased violence after the polls [in Bangladesh]. The New York Times

Pierre Prakash

Program Director, Asia
5 Հուն 2024
The election will not resolve Bangladesh’s political crisis … Since the 2008 election … the country has not held a credible national election. The Guardian

Pierre Prakash

Program Director, Asia
10 Նոյ 2022
You might ask ‘why would the military be interested in negotiating to take them [Rohingya refugees] back when it was the one that forced them to leave for the military re... The New Humanitarian

Thomas Kean

Senior Consultant, Myanmar & Bangladesh
28 Դեկ 2019
Les autorités [Birmanes] ont donc pris des mesures qui touchent à la liberté de mouvement. Les réfugiés n’ont plus le droit de sortir des camps et les autorités ont coupé... RFI

Pierre Prakash

Program Director, Asia

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