Global Risk Report 2016–Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration (2)

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends
  • the risks that have gone changed the most since the last Global Risk Report
  • The Paris Agreement as a response to the failure of global climate mitigation and adaptation
  • Risk responses to Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration

Today I want to focus in on a refugee problem that does not get sufficient attention.   The third largest hotspots of involuntary immigration are Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.   However, there is a refugee crisis that is mounting in Southeast Asia, namely, the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who are fleeing to the host country of Malaysia, with many choosing to go to final destination countries such as the United States.

This crisis is described in Box.1.3 in Part I of the Global Risk Report 2016.   It describes the Rohingya as stateless, but avoids the back story as to WHY they are stateless.   The government in Myanmar refuses to recognize their citizenship claiming that they are immigrants from Bangladesh, which is an historical fiction that the government tries to reinforce by forcing Rohingya to sign papers that list their ethnicity as “Bengali” in order for them to get any aid from the Myanmar government.

As if that were not bad enough, the Myanmar government has tried to ratchet up tensions between the Rohingya and the Rakkhine peoples based on religious and ethnic differences, which has led to violence against the former by the latter.   The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in a country whose majority are Buddhist.   To escape this attempt at ethnic cleansing, over 25,000 people departed from the Bay of Bengal in 2015 alone, with over 50,000 of them ending up in Malaysia.

This is problematic for two reasons:   1) Malaysia has not ratified key intergovernmental agreements regarding the treatment of refugees, 2) Malaysia does not have the legal or administrative framework for responding to refugees.

But the rest of the article focuses on the positive:   Rohingya refugees have begun to develop their own refugee-run community organizations, both in Malaysia and in destination countries like the United States.    For example, where I live in Chicago, IL, there is a Rohingya Culture Center opening up this Saturday, April 9th, open to all Rohinya refugees who are seeking advice and assistance on how to adapt to live in their new adopted countries.

Those who have come from Malaysia just a few years back and have assimilated enough that they have jobs and are sending their children to school are now helping those who have just arrived.   The first set of skills that newcomers need are language skills, and this is a big emphasis at the culture center, as well as practical advice on how to get and keep a job and what cultural expectations are for those in the workplace.

For those who are concerned about the assimilation of Muslim immigrants, there is a success story in the immigrants from Bosnia who settled in the St. Louis, MO area during the Clinton administration because of the ethnic cleansing going on in Serbia.   They have thrived, built their own community, and in doing so, have renovated many areas of the city of St. Louis which were on the decline.   This proves that giving enough support to the refugees so that they can help each other not only helps them thrive, but helps the neighborhoods thrive in which they are the newest residents.



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