Rohingya Conflict

Invisible suffering of Rohingya refugees


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Rohingya and Tibetan issue

Why in the news?

International attention is urgently needed to address the worsening mental health crisis among Rohingya refugees in India.

About Rohingya Sufferings

  • Trauma and Mental Health: Rohingya refugees in Delhi experience severe trauma, including anxiety, dissociative episodes, and depression, often due to past experiences in Myanmar and ongoing re-traumatization from living conditions and violence in India.
  • Living Conditions: Rohingya refugees live in shanty-like huts prone to accidental and intentionally set fires, leading to constant fear and re-traumatization.
  • Discrimination and Legal Status: Officially labelled as “illegal immigrants,” Rohingya refugees face severe discrimination in India. They are denied full access to education, healthcare, legal services, and formal employment opportunities.
  • Detention and Deportation: Fear of arbitrary detention and deportation is widespread, despite many having UNHCR refugee cards. At least 500 Rohingya, including women and children, are detained in centres across India without criminal charges, some for decades.
  • Civil Society and Funding: Civil society organizations working with Rohingya refugees face funding challenges due to cancelled FCRA licenses. Many support programs have shut down or reduced operations, leaving few UNHCR-supported organizations to cautiously continue their work.

About unsolved Tibetan issue

The Tibetan issue in India is a complex and contentious topic with historical, cultural, and political implications.

Historical Background

  • Pre-20th Century: Tibet recognized itself as an autonomous nation under Chinese protection, while China claimed formal incorporation into its borders during the Yuan Dynasty.
  • 20th Century: The relationship between Tibet and China became increasingly strained, culminating in the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet and the subsequent annexation of the region.

Ongoing Challenges

  • Tibetan Independence Movement: The Tibetan independence movement continues to push for greater autonomy and recognition of Tibet as a sovereign nation.
  • Chinese Censorship and Suppression: The Chinese government maintains strict control over information and suppresses any dissent or opposition to its rule in Tibet.

 Current Situation

  • Declining Refugee Numbers: Over the last seven years, the Tibetan refugee community in India has dropped by 44 percent, from around 150,000 in 2011 to 85,000, according to Indian government data.
  • Economic Uncertainty: Many Tibetans face economic uncertainty due to limited job opportunities and restrictions on property ownership and bank credit.
  • Lack of Recognition: Tibetans are not officially recognized as refugees in India, instead being designated as “foreigners” under Indian law.
  • No National Refugee Law: India has no national refugee law, and its policies are not in accordance with international standards.

Way forward: 

  • Implement National Refugee Law: Advocate for the establishment of a comprehensive national refugee law in India that aligns with international standards, ensuring legal recognition, protection, and access to basic rights and services for all refugees, including Rohingya and Tibetans.
  • Enhance Mental Health Support: Develop and fund specialized mental health programs for refugees, focusing on trauma-informed care. This includes training local healthcare providers, increasing access to mental health services, and creating safe spaces for refugees to receive consistent psychological support.

Mains PYQ:

Q Refugees should not be turned back to the country where they would face persecution or human right violation”. Examine the statement with reference to the ethical dimension being violated by the nation claiming to be democratic with an open society. (UPSC IAS/2021)

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