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Refugees/Migrants - South-East Asia

Refugees and migrants on the Bay of Bengal represent a key regional protection issue. Approximately 12 of every 1,000 people who embark on mixed maritime movements from the Bay of Bengal do not survive the boat journey. This means as many as 2,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingya may have died before ever reaching land between 2012 and 2015 — adding up to a fatality rate higher than in the Mediterranean Sea. (UNHCR, 23 Feb 2016)

Maritime movements have declined due to intensified interdiction efforts, greater awareness of the risks, and lack of legal status in destination countries. There have been no large-scale mixed maritime movements in South-East Asia since May 2015, when more than 5,000 refugees and migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar were abandoned by smugglers on the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea. (UNHCR, 30 June 2016)

However, the root causes of refugee flows have not been resolved. In October 2016, attacks on border guard posts in Myanmar's northern Rakhine — and the security operations that followed — triggered mass displacement. UN officials in Bangladesh estimate that more than 74,000 people, most of whom identify as Rohingya, crossed the border into Cox's Bazar district. UNICEF estimates that 57 per cent of the newly arrived are children. Significant humanitarian needs remain, months later. Some of those who fled to Bangladesh have since returned to northern Rakhine, but exact numbers are not known as returnees are keeping a low profile. (OCHA, 29 May 2017)

Some 119,876 people in Rakhine state were already displaced due to previous outbreaks of violence in 2012. (Shelter Cluster, 15 Feb 2017)

All Updates on Refugees/Migrants - South-East Asia

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28 Jun 2017 description

The latest attack on a Manus Island detainee shows it is too dangerous for refugees to settle in Papua New Guinea, according to advocates.

Read more on Radio New Zealand International

26 Jun 2017 description

Total arrivals (1 Jan - 25 Jun 2017): 72,723
Total arrivals (1 Jan - 25 Jun 2016): 60,790

Total arrivals 1 Jun - 25 Jun 2017: 12,495
Total arrivals 1 Jun - 25 Jun 2016: 12,939

Average daily arrivals in June 2017: 417
Average daily arrivals in May 2017: 742

Dead and missing in 2017 (as of 25 Jun): 2,005

Dead and missing in 2016 (as of 25 Jun): 2,886

Dead and missing in 2016: 5,096

26 Jun 2017 description

Research Paper Series, 2016-17

Janet Phillips

Social Policy Section

23 Jun 2017 description

Switzerland - On 20 June 2017, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the Governments of Australia, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) co-hosted an event exploring good practices on migration governance at the United Nations Office in Geneva.

23 Jun 2017 description

Pakistan – The Government of Australia and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) have launched a two-year, AUD 4 million (USD 3 million) project to assist undocumented Afghans in their host communities in Pakistan, as well as those who wish to return to Afghanistan.

23 Jun 2017 description
  • 132.3 M required for 2017

  • 25.3 M contributions received, representing 19% of requirements

  • 107.0 M funding gap for South East Asia

All figures are displayed in USD

23 Jun 2017 description
  • 6.8 M required for 2017

  • 0 contributions received

  • 6.8 M funding gap for the Bay Of Bengal Situation

All figures are displayed in USD

23 Jun 2017 description
  • 70.8 M required for 2017

  • 10.9 M contributions received, representing 15% of requirements

  • 59.9 M funding gap for the Myanmar Situation

All figures are displayed in USD

22 Jun 2017 description

As pressure mounts on refugees to leave the Manus Island detention centre, legal experts warn Australia could be flouting international law.

After four years of imprisonment in Papua New Guinea, asylum seekers are being returned to the countries they fled.

Read more on Radio New Zealand International

22 Jun 2017 description

DHAKA – The Australian Government has announced additional support of AUD3.9 million to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to improve nutrition and build community resilience in Cox’s Bazar.

Undernutrition and food insecurity are at crisis levels in Cox’s Bazar and poverty is well above the national average. More than 30,000 people live in official refugee camps and more than one hundred thousand others are in makeshift camps or hosted in the community.  

22 Jun 2017 description

The Karenni Civil Society Network (KCSN) has called for a withdrawal of Burmese government forces from their bases in Karenni [Kayah] State; the cessation of several mega-development projects; and adequate humanitarian assistance for Karenni refugees.

21 Jun 2017 description


The concerns of ethnic Karen refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) were raised on Tuesday, World Refugee Day, over the lack of a clear plan for the return and reintegration of those going back to their homelands, at a Karen Peace Support Network press conference in Rangoon.

Burmese military camps have also increased from 65 to 81 in Hpapun district alone, Karen sources say, a bolstered presence in the region that is eroding refugees’ confidence in the peace process.

21 Jun 2017 description


  • 7515 children enrolled in school up to Grade 7 till March in 2017; Grade 8 permission still pending

  • 66 survivors of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) received psychosocial counseling till March in 2017. The number was 221 in 2016

  • 6285 birth certificates for were issued by UP Chairman to the Camp authority since 1992 till March 2017, following online birth registration for the first time

20 Jun 2017 description
report UN Children's Fund


  • UNICEF requires US$20.7 million to implement its 2017-2018 Response Plan for Undocumented Myanmar National (UMN) children. For 2017, to address the needs of affected children and their families, UNICEF is seeking US$9.45 million.

20 Jun 2017 description
report Human Rights Watch

Forced Repatriation, Inhumane Detention Adds Misery to Asylum Seekers

Once again, World Refugee Day has arrived with no improvement in Thailand’s abysmal treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

Despite having decades of experience hosting millions of refugees, Thailand still has no refugee law or credible national procedures for granting asylum. The result is refugees and asylum seekers are in a precarious state, vulnerable to abuse.

20 Jun 2017 description

World Refugee Day is a chance to celebrate Australia's Humanitarian Programme and focus on the great contribution humanitarian entrants make to Australia.

Australia is one of the few countries in the world to welcome Yazidi refugees who were facing genocide at the hands ISIS because of their religious beliefs. Since settling in regional New South Wales they have embraced and adopted the Australian way of life.

20 Jun 2017 description

This report is the final publication of the European Union–funded Migration, Environment and Climate Change: Evidence for Policy (MECLEP) project. The comparative report builds on desk reviews, household surveys and qualitative interviews conducted in the six project countries (Dominican Republic, Haiti, Kenya, Republic of Mauritius, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam) to assess the extent to which migration, including displacement and planned relocation, can benefit or undermine adaptation to environmental and climate change.

20 Jun 2017 description

Men under 50 were most at risk

By Emma Batha

LONDON, June 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The number of recorded suicides and attempted suicides has soared at Thailand's largest camp for refugees from Myanmar, the International Organization for Migration said on Monday as it called for urgent action to treat high levels of distress.

17 Jun 2017 description

Facts & Figures

  • One of the most natural disasterprone countries in the world

  • The highest population density in the world: 1 237.51 persons/km2

  • The country hosts a large number of Rohingya refugees* coming from Myanmar

Key messages