Field Notes from the Rohingya Emergency Response

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Guest Speaker: Professor Bina D'Costa (ANU)

Presented with the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness

Since the beginning of the so-called ‘clearance operations’ conducted by the Myanmar security force in August 2017 in the northern Rakhine region, 741,792 refugees from Burma/Myanmar have arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

While a multifaceted and collaborative response from the United Nations and other humanitarian actors helped to stabilise the dire situation, it is clear that the scale of needs exceeds both Bangladesh’s and the international community’s current capacity to deliver support to the Rohingya community.

This talk draws on field research undertaken in Cox’s Bazar at the height of the UN emergency response in 2017-2018 and again in late 2019. It provides an analysis of the UN humanitarian response and takes a deep dive into three key child protection concerns: trafficking and smuggling, child labour, and child/early marriage.

It argues that decades of structural xenophobic discrimination against the Rohingya have not only resulted in violence and protracted displacement but also created serious inter-generational harm. The UN system urgently needs innovative child protection measures that simultaneously adopt rights-based, anti-prejudice initiatives and develop strategic south-south cooperation on both a community and structural level.

This event will take place on Friday 26 June from 1pm – 2pm AEST.

Bina D'Costa is a Professor at the Department of International Relations, Coral Bell School of Asia-Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University. At the height of Europe’s refugee emergency, she moved to the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti to build its Migration and Displacement program (2016-2018). Bina's current research focuses on children's protection in global humanitarian emergencies through human rights framing in trafficking/smuggling, child/early marriage, child labour and gender justice issues. This project also draws on SDG indicators for data and evidence.