Transnational Security Tension with Rising Refugee Crisis in South Asia

Jan 08, 2020

Shares: 13

Millions of people are being displaced from their home country due to generalized violence. The victims of such violence are becoming the cause of multidimensional tension for the world. Refugees are created by insecurities in the form of persecution, massive violence or domestic conflict which threatens livelihood. However, it is observed that these displaced people are also creating tension in the host country as the host country needs to provide the refugees with accommodation, livelihood and other costs. Moreover, the law and order situation of the country and the perception of the locals and the foreigners need to be kept in check. There are lots of incidents where these refugees engaged themselves with unlawful activities such as drug trafficking, fake identity making, terrorist activities and paid illegal activities by the influential people in the host country. The recent refugee crisis in South Asia, the Rohingya refugee crisis in Myanmar has been a vital issue to reconsider. Moreover, with the enactment of the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) in India and implementation of National Register of Citizens, a possibility has developed that there might be another stateless people crisis in India. It requires further investigation to determine whether these cases are only internal issues or going to create regional multidimensional security tensions for all south Asian countries. The dimension and complexity of this crisis indicates that Rohingya refugee and Indian stateless people crisis would be the transnational security issue for the all South Asian countries.

Rohingya Refugee Crisis and Rising Transnational Security Threats

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, there are over 909,000 stateless Rohingya refugees residing in Ukhiya and Teknaf Upazilas of Bangladesh by March 2019.[1] The vast majority lives in 34 extremely congested camps, including the largest single site, the Kutupalong-Balukhali Expansion Site, which is host to approximately 626,500 Rohingya refugees. The Rohingya refugees are vulnerable to human trafficking, food insecurity and health insecurity. It has been reported that international human trafficking gangs are actively looking at this situation to exploit the vulnerability of the Rohingyas. The resulting Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh poses threats to human security, transnational security, internal security and border security.

Assumedly many young women and children will fall victim to the trafficking gangs ending up in international markets for prostitution and slave labour. The massive exodus of Rohingya refugees might alter the internal security scenario of Bangladesh. However, at the time of influx, public sentiments and emotions were running high in favour of the Rohingya people. The continuous atrocities on the Rohingya in Rakhine State by the radical militant Buddhists have given rise to strong resentment of the local population in Bangladesh. This could pose a major challenge to communal peace and harmony in this region.

Many militant and terrorist groups have called for jihad in response to the prolonged Rohingya crisis in Rakhine State. Transnational terror organisations from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are calling for recruitment of jihad in Myanmar as stories of thousands of Rohingya victims are being broadcasted on the Internet. A right-wing Islamist organisation from Indonesia, Front Pembela Islam, has opened registration for 1,200 volunteers to join in the jihad in Myanmar in defence of the Rohingya.[2] Moreover, the international terror organizations like ISIS are also active to grab this displaced helpless people in igniting them for armed violence.

The prolonged refugee crisis in Myanmar is making the border of Bangladesh and India vulnerable and unstable. Bangladesh has experienced tension and near-conflict in the border area with Myanmar on both land and water. It is impossible to completely seal off the border due to the porous nature of the Bangladesh-Myanmar boundary. Thus, the instability and violence in Rakhine State, especially activities of terror groups with linkages to the Rohingya, will pose a threat to Bangladesh’s border security. The instability at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border may give rise to the emergence of non-state actors and this can complicate the internal security of the states.

Possibility of Stateless People Crisis in India and Future Security Threats

The recent National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) have given birth to unpredictable situation in India. The protest against the CAA has spread to almost every corner of the country. The CAA itself is innocuous, combined with the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), an exercise that has run into controversy in Assam as it will become a tool to exclude the Muslim population of the country. At the end of August 2019, the final list was published with 1.9 million people in the state unable to prove their Indian citizenship. In attempting to do so, the NRC process instead highlighted the persistent complications of the 1947 partition of India, and brought to the fore an ideological struggle over Indian nationhood. Moreover, it has been reported by BBC Bangla that more than hundreds of people have entered into Bangladesh from India. [3]

On the other hand, according to the CAA, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Parsi migrants who have entered India illegally i.e., without a visa-on or before December 31, 2014 from the Muslim-majority countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh and have stayed in the country for five years, are eligible to apply for Indian citizenship. If this happens, there is a probability of exclusion of many Muslim people from the Indian citizenship resulting into growing hostile sentiments among Muslim people against the Hindus. There are many active extremist groups in the north-east part of India who are always trying to revolt against the Indian policy of this region. There is also a possibility that these excluded people might get involved in creating instability in India and other neighbouring countries.

Security issues are becoming challenging than ever before. Extremist groups can connect one another throughout the world easily by social media and modern technologies. It is very easy for the fanatic forces to induce the displaced people to violent tasks. The Rohingya refugees and Indian stateless people are such type of people who are going to be the future security concern not only for India, Bangladesh and Myanmar but for all the South Asian countries.


[1] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Rohingya Refugee Crisis accessed on 05 January 2020.

[2] BIPSS Special Report, “Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Bangladesh: A Security Perspective” accessed on 05 January 2020.

[3] কাদির কল্লোল, “সীমান্তে রাতের বেলায় বিজিবি-গ্রামবাসী পাহারা কেন” accessed on 05 January 2020.

This article gives the views of the author, and not the DUCSU Law and Politics Review, nor the Dhaka University Central Students' Union (DUCSU)

Tags : NRC Crisis , Bangladesh- India Relations , India , Refugee Crisis , Statelessness

Shawon Talukdar is a valedictorian from the Department of Political Science, University of Dhaka. He is a reviewer of University of Toronto Journal of Political Science (UTJPS) from fall 2018 and also an editor of DUCSU LPR.