As long as you look on migration as a problem, as something to solve, you’re not going to get anywhere. You have to look at it as a human reality that’s as old as humankind. It’s mankind’s oldest poverty reduction strategy. As citizens, we have to find a way to manage it.
William Lacy Swing, Director General International Organization for Migration (IOM), 2017
Most of the around 1.1 million migrants that came to Bangladesh between 1990 and 2017 came from Myanmar, followed by Malaysia, China, Indonesia and Laos. Most migrants from neighbouring Myanmar are Rohingyas, a Muslim minority in Myanmar regarded by many Myanmar Buddhists as illegal migrants from Bangladesh. The Rohingyas have lived in Myanmar for generations, but are denied citizenship in Myanmar and have been described as the world’s most persecuted minority. Rohingyas are persecuted in Myanmar by security forces and Buddhist extremists, this has escalated in 2016, which resulted in higher number of refugees.
From a UN resolution in December 2017
Highly alarmed at the outbreak of violence in Rakhine State in October 2016 and August 2017 that caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya civilians to Bangladesh, bringing the total to more than 600,000 Rohingyas, mainly women, children and the elderly, who have joined the hundreds of thousands of those among the Rohingya population previously displaced from Myanmar to Bangladesh that had fled violence in Myanmar in phases over the years.
Noting with deep concern that, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, nearly 60 per cent of the Rohingya population who have been forced to flee to Bangladesh are children, and that a large number of those children are unaccompanied, separated or orphaned.
Concerned that, despite the fact that the Rohingya population, especially Muslims, had been living in Myanmar for generations prior to its independence and have no ties to anywhere but Myanmar, they have been made stateless since the enactment of the 1982 Citizenship Law and since then have been subjected to restrictions on access to education, health services and livelihoods, underscoring that the lack of citizenship status and related civil and political rights of Rohingya Muslims and others, including voting rights, is a serious human rights violation.