CANBERRA/WELLINGTON - Nearly one million stateless Rohingya people who fled brutal ethnic cleansing in Myanmar have been languishing in extremely congested refugee camps in Bangladesh for the past five and a half years, according to the Conservation.

While the United States recently announced a resettlement program for Rohingya refugees and the United Kingdom (UK) resettled around 300 Rohingya from the camps prior to 2020 under a now-defunct scheme, this hasn’t caused even a dent in the number of people living in the world’s largest refugee camp.

No other countries have accepted refugee applications from the camps, but the Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has expressed optimism that a good number of Rohingya may eventually be resettled by the US and others.

Since 2008, Australia has granted visas to just 470 Rohingya under its special humanitarian program – a very small number considering the extreme need. All of these refugees were accepted into the program from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries in the region.

This creates a perverse incentive for Rohingya from the Bangladesh camps to get on rickety boats and make the dangerous sea journey to those countries. According to our new research, there is public support for this to happen.

In surveys conducted last year, a majority of Australians and New Zealanders said they have positive views about the Rohingya and support the resettlement of more Rohingya refugees in their countries.