Timeline: How the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Unfolded in Myanmar

Daniele Selby

Dar Yasin/AP

The Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar, formerly Burma, is no stranger to conflict. Nestled between Thailand and Laos on one side, and India and Bangladesh on the other, the country has been the site of several international and domestic clashes.

But in recent months, a series of escalating events has made Myanmar home to one of the world’s most violent conflicts.

When Myanmar emerged in 2010 from decades of oppressive military control, the world watched, ready to celebrate its transition to democracy — but hopes of its smooth transition to democracy have been dashed, as reports point to a dark, ongoing humanitarian crime: ethnic cleansing.

The target is an ethnic minority called the Rohingya.

The conflict between Myanmar’s majority Buddhist population and the Rohingya, a primarily Muslim group, has its roots in centuries of history, but has worsened in recent years.

In the last few months, the situation spiraled displacing hundreds of thousands — as the world stood by and watched. Scroll through the below timeline to see exactly what happened and when.

The crisis has yet to be resolved.

The fate of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled systematic rape, destruction, and indiscriminate violence remains uncertain. For now, aid workers struggle to provide adequate health care, sufficient food, and ensure the safety of all.

While the UN raised $344 million to fund humanitarian relief programs to aid the Rohingya, it’s still $90 million short of its funding goal.

Despite calls to unequivocally condemn the violence from heads of state like Canadian President Justin Trudeau and thought leaders like Malala Yousafzai, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has wont to address the escalating violence, prompting backlash.

During her recent visit, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Suu Kyi said people “should live peacefully, the government is there to help them, and they should not quarrel among each other.” She did not discuss the estimated 1 million Rohingya now living in makeshift tents as refugees in Bangladesh, the BBC reported.

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On Nov. 2, the same day as Suu Kyi’s Rakhine visit, Reuters reported that US lawmakers have proposed targeted sanctions against Myanmar, following up on an earlier threat the Trump administration made.

In the meantime, the Rohingya refugees who fled by the thousands on foot and on boats, await their fates as Bangladesh moves forward with its plans to combine two refugee settlements — currently over capacity — into one massive camp, which the Rohingya will not be permitted to leave freely.

The constraints on Rohingya people’s movements in and out of the camp will not be unlike those they endured in Myanmar, where thousands of internally displaced Rohingya have been confined to camps for years.

What Happens Next?

On Nov. 6, the UN Security Council — including China, which previously said it understood and supported Myanmar's military campaign — issued it's strongest statement on the crisis yet. It expressed grave concerns over human rights violation and called on Myanmar to grant UN agencies, humanitarian organizations, and the media full access to Rakhine state. The council also urged the government to work with Bangladesh toward returning the Rohingya home safely, and emphasized the need to provide rights, including citizenship, without discrimination.

The Myanmar government criticized the UN's statement, saying on Wednesday that the council's harsh words could jeopardize Myanmar's negotiations with Bangladesh, though Bangladesh's Foreign Minister said the government actually “appreciated the recent statement of the UN Security Council," Reuters reported.

The two countries are expected to come together this month to discuss the repatriation process, but a senior official of Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry told Reuters, “This problem is not going to be resolved anytime soon. The UN’s involvement in the process is a must.”

The Security Council has asked the UN Secretary-General António Guterres to report back on the situation in 30 days.