The Myanmar Refugee Crisis

What is the Humanitarian Crisis in Myanmar?

The United Nations estimates that more than 14 million people in Myanmar need humanitarian assistance as serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law by the military continue. At least 1 million people have fled the country since 2017 and are living in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Most of them are Rohingya refugees, and more than 70 percent of refugees from Myanmar are women and children.

Many factors contribute to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, including conflict, COVID-19, economic and political turmoil, and statelessness. Women, girls, boys, men, and transgender people from ethnic minorities are particularly targeted, and face discrimination, movement restrictions, and exploitation and abuse—in particular sexual and gender-based violence, which the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar has found to be “a hallmark of the Tatmadaw’s [the armed forces of Myanmar] operations” in northern Myanmar and in Rakhine.

WRC’s Priorities on the Myanmar Crisis

The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) is particularly concerned with the impact of the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar on women and children, including Rohingya refugees who fled the country and are living in settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. WRC’s top priority on the Myanmar crisis includes:

  • Funding for programs in support of refugees who have fled Myanmar, as well as Rohingya displaced within Myanmar.

How to Help People Affected by the Myanmar Crisis

Several factors contribute to the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Your voice helps spread the word on these issues. Send a tweet today on the crisis in Myanmar.

Our Advocacy on the Myanmar Crisis

WRC is committed to ensuring the needs and rights of those displaced by the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar are protected. Below is a list of WRC’s advocacy work related to the Myanmar conflict.

Hold Myanmar Military Accountable for Violence against Women

Marking the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, WRC joined the Women’s Peace Network and more than 180 organizations in a letter calling upon the UN Security Council to hold the Myanmar military accountable for grievously violating the human rights of women.

“We Need to Write Our Own Names”: Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Rohingya Humanitarian Response in Cox’s Bazar

WRC conducted research on how gender and its intersection with other factors have been integrated by operational agencies and organizations into the Rohingya humanitarian response in Bangladesh, documenting positive practices, lessons learned, and recommendations for the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar and globally.

A Clear Case for Need and Demand: Accessing Contraceptive Services for Rohingya Women and Girls in Cox’s Bazar

In January 2019, WRC conducted a case study of contraceptive service delivery in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, which aimed to document the important work that humanitarian actors and other stakeholders are undertaking to provide contraceptive services and menstrual regulation services in the refugee camps; to highlight challenges; and to document how some of these challenges were overcome.

It's Happening to Our Men as Well: Sexual Violence Against Rohingya Men and Boys

In July 2018, two WRC researchers traveled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to explore sexual violence perpetrated against Rohingya men and boys in Myanmar and Bangladesh. WRC conducted 21 focus groups with 109 Rohingya men, women, and adolescents in four sections of Kutupalong Camp and interviewed 45 humanitarian aid workers and human rights experts. The findings and recommendations in this report aim to help international and national humanitarian agencies improve protection mechanisms and strengthen services for at-risk men and boys and male sexual violence survivors in Cox’s Bazar.

Joint NGO Statement on SRHR Needs of Rohingya Women and Girls Displaced by the Conflict

Ahead of the UN Security Council traveling to Bangladesh and Myanmar at the end of April, WRC, together with CARE International, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and IPAS, shared the following statement with Council members and UN officials highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive, reproductive care for Rohingya women and girls.

WRC's Media on the Myanmar Crisis

The news media across the world have featured WRC’s research and staff expertise on the impact of the Myanmar crisis on refugees.

Statement by the Women’s Refugee Commission Regarding Military Coup in Myanmar and Arrest of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi

Joan Timoney, who was serving as WRC’s vice president of advocacy, issued a statement after Myanmar’s military took control of the country in a coup and declared a state of emergency, following the detention of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior government leaders, as well as civil society leaders.

Activist Urges UN Security Council to Hold Myanmar’s Military Accountable for Genocide against Ethnic Communities

Sarah Costa, WRC executive director, issued a statement in response to the testimony of Ms. Khin Ohmar, a women’s human rights defender from Myanmar at the United Nations (UN) Security Council annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence.

New Report Suggests Myanmar Army Targeted Rohingya Men and Boys for Sexual Violence

This press release announced the publication of a groundbreaking report with new data suggesting that the Myanmar Armed Forces targeted Rohingya men and boys for sexual violence as part of its all-out assault on the Rohingya community in 2017.