Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 22, 12 February 2020

Bangladesh: 15 dead as an overcrowded boat with 138 Rohingyas capsizes
Sourina Bej

In the news

An overcrowded wooden fishing boat carrying about 138 Rohingya refugees from the refugee camps in Bangladesh sank near the Saint Martin’s Island in the Bay of Bengal on 11 February, leaving at least 15 confirmed dead, mostly women. According to Captain Waseem Maqsood, the coastguard commander in the Chittagong division, around 71 people were rescued alive, while more than 40 remain unaccounted. The Bangladesh authorities believe the boat departed from Teknaf, an administrative region of Cox's Bazar, south of Bangladesh on the Myanmar border. Teknaf is the point of entry to Bangladesh, where the influx of Rohingya refugees has taken place in recent years. While most still live in the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, more than few Rohingya refugees have attempted to go overseas.

Issues at large 

The incident on 11 February is the latest in the series of the attempts made by the Rohingya refugees to flee Myanmar by illegal routes in the sea. The exodus peaked in 2015 when an estimated 25,000 people fled across the Andaman Sea for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia but were stranded and drowned after the respective governments restricted their illegal entry.

The Rohingya refugees are enticed by traffickers to board the boat from various points as they head for Malaysia. They are lured on promises of a better and dignified life, income and survival in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. The coast guard thwarted many past attempts to travel illegally by boat, but the Rohingyas have embarked on dangerous seas. The UN International Organisation for Migration has put an estimated 8,000 Rohingyas from Bangladesh and Myanmar to be stranded at sea.

The Thai government in 2015 begun crackdown on smugglers who have traditionally taken the Rohingyas to camps in southern Thailand and held them ransom. As a result, the smugglers are now abandoning the Rohingyas at sea. Not only are the countries, but the fishermen are also restricted from helping them with boats. In Indonesia, the Aceh province has sometimes accepted asylum seekers, but they are usually barred from working and often spend years in immigration centres. Another favoured route by the Rohingyas is the Indo-Bangladesh border whereby the Rohingya refugees reach India through road by sneaking at night. 

In perspective 

First, the Rohingyas are unwelcome in the countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and India. The Thailand navy has indicated allowing refugee camps on its shores but is turning boats away and does not want permanent settlers. Malaysia is the choice of destination for most Rohingyas because it is predominantly Muslim and short of an unskilled labourer, but it has ordered its navy to repel them. Indonesia has an official stand on not welcoming the Rohingyas, thereby turning away boatloads. India had initially maintained a nonchalant stand on receiving the Rohingyas. However, with a strong message recently, India has detained and often deported the Rohingyas who cross the border illegally. In a situation where the neighbouring countries have repeatedly turned their back on the Rohingyas, the desperate choice of going illegally is most favoured.  

Second, the refugee camps in Bangladesh are overpopulated, dilapidated, water short and little scope for alternate livelihood. With Bangladesh facing the cost of a population upsurge, additional numbers of Rohingya are a burden for the country. Bangladesh has searched for a more permanent and tangible solution to rehabilitate the Rohingya refugees through repatriation. However, it has failed to materialise between Bangladesh and Myanmar. With a regular influx of Rohingyas from the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, Bangladesh is planning to shift the Rohingyas to a sinking island. Left with little choice, the Rohingya refugees are seeking to leave the camps and look for refuge again. 

Last, the first recognition of the condition of the Rohingyas came with the ICJ ruling last month, but a worsening relationship between Bangladesh and Myanmar and no political pressure on Myanmar from the neighbourhood leaves no scope for the Rohingyas but to fend for themselves. Bangladesh has taken steps to secure its only border with Myanmar by constructing barbed wires, while India has also secured its borders with Bangladesh. In this, the Rohingyas have sought the sea for survival. 

October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 447
The US: Protests against the Texas anti-abortion law
October 2021 | Conflict Alert # 444
Brazil: Anti-Bolsonaro protests across the country

September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 441
Yemen: Houthis continue to capture territories
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 439
Europe: Pride Marches in Serbia and Ukraine
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 437
Brazil: Protestors call for the impeachment of Bolsonaro
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 435
Guinea: Another coup in Africa
September 2021 | Conflict Alert # 431
Climate Change: Hurricane Ida destructs the US Gulf Coast
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 422
Europe: Measures to curb pandemic trigger protests
August 2021 | Conflict Alert # 418
Peru: Protests a sign of challenges facing Castillo
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 411
Wildfires: Siberia to the US
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 409
Bosnia: 26 years after the Srebrenica Massacre
July 2021 | Conflict Alert # 405
Colombia: Two months of protests
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 399
Myanmar: New UNGA resolution
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 397
Myanmar: The Aung San Suu Kyi trial begins
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 390
Burkina Faso: Another massacre in Africa
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 386
Nigeria: Another mass abduction grips Niger state
June 2021 | Conflict Alert # 385
Colombia: The protests continue
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 382
Israel-Hamas ceasefire: The long road to peace
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 380
Colombia: Three weeks of protests

May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 378
Israel-Palestine: Who wants what?
May 2021 | Conflict Alert # 374
Yemen: The Battle for Marib rages on
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 371
Pakistan: Meetings with Afghan leaders
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 369
Israel-Syria: Continuing Missile Strikes
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 362
Iran: Another act of
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 358
India: Another Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh
April 2021 | Conflict Alert # 356
Global Gender Gap Report 2021: Main Takeaways

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 353
Niger: 137 massacred in the latest attack by gunmen

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 351
Yemen: Saudi Arabia announces ceasefire
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 347
Australia: Women fight against sexual violence 
March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 345
The US: The George Floyd trial begins

March 2021 | Conflict Alert # 340
Syria: UN report calls for a complete ceasefire
February 2021 | Conflict Alert # 333
South Korea: The 'Comfort Women' issue returns to haunt

January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 222
Russia: Pro-Navalny protests turn anti-government 
January 2021 | Conflict Alert # 220
COVID-19: The Vaccine Wars
December 2020 | Conflict Alert # 200
India: Farmers' protests intensify as deadlock persists
November 2020 | Conflict Alert # 191
Pakistan: Anti-French protests called off
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 174
Bangladesh: Protests intensify against sexual violence
October 2020 | Conflict Alert # 167
India crosses 6 million-mark in COVID-19 cases
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 166
Pakistan: The persisting polio problem
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 156
Pakistan: Targeted Violence continues in Waziristan
September 2020 | Conflict Alert # 154
The anti-Racist Protests in the US: Between
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 148
Israel and UAE normalize relations
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 146
Bolivia: Protests against the Election postponement
August 2020 | Conflict Alert # 138
In Iraq, the protestors return to the streets 
July 2020 | Conflict Alert # 118
J&K: Geelani's Exit and Continuing Violence
June 2020 | Conflict Alert # 105
Black Lives Matter brings the US to its knees
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 86
Libya: Khalifa Haftar announces ceasefire 
May 2020 | Conflict Alert # 81
India: The surge in violence in J&K
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 71
Afghanistan: 300 Taliban prisoners released
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 67
Syria: New UN Report on Idlib
April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 64
A lethal impact on the Refugee/Migrant Camps 

April 2020 | Conflict Alert # 63
Indigenous Communities battle a complete wipeout 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 51
Coronavirus & China: Fall in numbers 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 47
Coronavirus & Nepal: In the second stage, cancels
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 44
Two Presidents in Afghanistan

March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 42
'Aurat March': A New beginning across Pakistan 
March 2020 | Conflict Alert # 38
Sri Lanka withdraws from 30/1 Geneva Resolution
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 35
A ceasefire between Israel, Islamic Jihad in Gaza
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 34
Libya: rivals withdraw from Geneva peace talks
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 33
India: Violence in Delhi
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 32
Afghanistan: Seven Days of Peace

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 31
Climate Change Fallouts: Impacts the Bird population
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 28
Pakistan: Court convicts LeT founder Hafiz Saeed

February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 27
Pakistan: Suicide terrorism returns to haunt Quetta
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 26
Afghanistan: The US-Taliban Seven Day Deal
February 2020 | Conflict Alert # 24
Israel: Violence in post  Trump-deal

January 2020 | Conflict Alert # 20
Kenya: Al Shabab and a week of killings
December 2019 | Conflict Alert # 19
Citizenship Amendment Bill:2019

November 2019 | Conflict Alert # 18
Lebanon: PM Hariri quits, but protests continue 
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 16
Bolivian unrest
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 15
Hundreds protest in Haiti

October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 14
Protests rock Chile
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 13
Hong Kong Violence: A divide within
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 12
Spain: The trouble in Catalonia
October 2019 | Conflict Alert # 11
Turkey's Offensive in Syria

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 9
Africa to be Polio Free
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 7
Myanmar: Teenage girls traded as brides to China

August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 6
Moscow Protests: Thousands rally in Moscow
August 2019 | Conflict Alert # 3
Jordan Restores diplomatic ties with Qatar