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ReliefWeb Topics page tracks Bay of Bengal displacement, migration

By Irwin Loy

From 2013 to 2015, one of the world’s most perilous maritime migration routes cut through a stretch of waterway in South and South-East Asia.

Smugglers used the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea as a corridor to connect desperate refugees and migrants to destinations throughout the region and beyond. For many travellers, however, it is a dangerous journey.

An estimated 1,800 people died while attempting this crossing from 2013 to 2015 — a fatality rate of roughly 1.2 per cent, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR. The fatality rate for mixed movements in the Mediterranean Sea was roughly 0.6 per cent over the same time period.

On World Refugee Day 2017, ReliefWeb is highlighting the Refugees/Migrants - South-East Asia Topics page, which shines a spotlight on the humanitarian issues confronting refugees and migrants along the Bay of Bengal. The Topics page collects hand-picked reports — including UN, NGO and government situation reports, maps and infographics, as well as media articles — to help readers stay up-to-date on this crucial issue.

The Refugees/Migrants - South-East Asia Topics page also features an interactive timeline map that traces a journey across the Bay of Bengal and around the region.

The map connects key events and locations: moving from the launch points of coastal Myanmar and Bangladesh; to the waterways where boatloads of people were left adrift in May 2015, triggering a regional crisis; to major transit and destination countries, where refugees and asylum seekers have spent months and years in limbo; before circling back to Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where tensions continue to simmer.

Curated content for this Topics page covers four categories central to mixed migration in the region:

  • Reports that analyse the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, where communal tensions have caused displacement, and in Bangladesh, to where large numbers of Rohingya have fled.

  • Reports that analyse developments for refugees and migrants in neighbouring countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia, to where an estimated 112,500 Rohingya travelled by sea between 2012 and 2015.

  • Reports on funding and funding gaps on this issue.

  • Reports on related mixed migration issues from beyond the Bay of Bengal, including key updates on policies affecting refugees and migrants in other destination countries in the region.

While there have been no mass outflows on the Bay of Bengal since the May 2015 boat crisis, the root causes of displacement linger. Since October 2016, some 74,000 Rohingya have crossed into Bangladesh, joining an estimated 230,000 to 500,000 Rohingya who had come before them.

The ReliefWeb Topics pages are aimed at offering users highly curated content, making it easier to find a wide range of information covering complex subjects. ReliefWeb editors are also building new Topics pages on evolving issues, such as the crisis in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.