Governing at the Margins: A Patchwork of Policies and Practices in the Rohingya Refugee Response in Bangladesh
Following the mass forced displacement of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh beginning in August 2017, a vast humanitarian response was mobilized to provide shelter and aid to refugees in the southeast region of Cox’s Bazar. Despite not being a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol, Bangladesh continues to host almost one million Rohingya refugees in 33 camps in Cox’s Bazar. The Bangladesh government, with support from international organizations, oversees the governance of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Its main policy framework is the National Strategy on Myanmar Refugees and Undocumented Nationals in Bangladesh issued in 2013. Today, camp-based Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh continue to be governed and supported by an arrangement of instruments and structures best described as ad hoc.
In 2022, the Centre for Peace and Justice, BRAC University in partnership with The Asia Foundation, undertook an analysis of governance and decision-making surrounding the refugee response, with a particular focus on the sporadic and often opaque ways that refugee camp policies are developed and communicated to camp residents. The research unearthed an ad hoc system of governance mechanisms used by the Bangladesh government, and their uneven implementation, which have significant impacts on the everyday lives of refugees and on the work of humanitarian responders.