Undergraduate Journal of Global Citizenship


Over the course of the past decade, persecution against the Rohingya ethnic group in Western Burma has escalated to the point of genocide. Since August 2017 alone, more than 730,000 Rohingya have fled their homes in Rakhine State to neighboring Bangladesh (Beech, 2019). Previous studies on the causes of this crisis have focused on the colonial legacy of discrimination toward ethnic and religious minorities in Burma, themes of identity and citizenship, and role of social media in fueling the violence. However, this paper will consider what may be an overlooked factor: the role of environmental stress in inciting the conflict. After outlining commonly understood causes of the crisis, this paper seeks to evaluate the extent to which environmental stress factored in by (1) examining the status of environmental degradation and natural disasters in Burma, (2) considering how environmental pressure may exacerbate violence against the Rohingya, and (3) comparing this crisis to ethnic conflict in Sudan, where environmental stress was undoubtedly a cause of violence. By establishing where and how environmental stress played into the Rohingya crisis, recommendations to reduce the likelihood of environmental factors inciting similar conflicts can be made.



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