Rohingya in Thailand: Existing social protection in dynamic circumstances


  • Ankana Kaewkuekoonkit UNHCR
  • Supang Chantavanich Asian Research Center for Migration Institute of Asian Studies Chulalongkorn University


Rohingya, social protection, displacement, Thailand policy


Rohingyas who have arrived Thailand with various motivations are vulnerable.  They need legal and social protection and face the risk of being indefinitely arrested by Thai immigration.  The purpose of this article is to identify existing protection mechanisms for the Rohingyas in Thailand by examining preventive, protective, promotive and transformative measures provided to them.  Field research conducted in 2016 reveals that there are four main groups of Rohingya immigrants: those who arrived earlier than 2006, the recent arrivals during 2015-2016, Rohingya victims of human trafficking and Rohingya asylum seekers in temporary shelters.  Each group has different access to protection based on its legal status.  They are also socially protected by civil society groups and existing Muslim and Rohingya networks in Thailand.


Download data is not yet available.


Asian Research Center for Migration. (2016). Thailand Anti Trafficking Outlook Vol. 1/2016: Progress on the Rohingya case. Bangkok: Asian Research Center for Migration, Institution of Asian Studies, Chulalongkorn University.

Azis, A. (2014). Urban refugees in a graduated sovereignty: the experiences of the stateless Rohingya in the Klang valley. Citizenship Studies, 841.

Betts, A. (2010). Towards a ‘soft law’ framework for the protection of vulnerable irregular migrants. International Journal of Refugee Law, Volume 22, Issue 2, 231.

Blitz, B. K. (2014). Migration and Freedom: Mobility, Citizenship and Exclusion. Cheltenham UK: Elgar Publishing.

Board, J. (2017, September 28). Displaced Rohingyas at great risk of human trafficking in overwhelmed camps. Retrieved from asiapacific/displaced-rohingyas-at-great-risk-of-human-trafficking-in-9258108.

Boutry, M. (2014). L’Arakanisation d’Arakan: les racines d’un nouvel exode. l’espace politique 24, 1-25.

Castles, S., & Miller, M. J. (1998). The Age of Migration; Second Edition: International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York: The Guilford Press.

Castles, S., & Miller, M. J. (2003). The Age of Migration: International Population Movements in the Modern World. New York: the Guildford Press.

Chantavanich, S. (2015, May 7). Retrieved October 23, 2017, from How the Rohingya crisis came to Thailand: print/553763/.

Cheung, S. (2011). Migration Control and the Solutions Impasse in South and Southeast Asia: Implications from the Rohingya Experience. Journal of Refugee Studies, 66.

ERT & IHRP. (2014). The Human Rights of Statelessness Rohingya in Thailand. London: The Human Rights Trust.

France-Presse, A. (2017, October 2). Bangladesh says Myanmar makes proposal to take back Rohingya refugees. Retrieved from

Holmes, O. (2017, July 19). Thailand convicts traffickers after 2015 mass graves discovery. Retrieved October 23, 2017, from thailand-convicts-dozens-of-traffickers-after-mass-graves-discovery.

IOM. (2016). Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea Crisis Response. Bangkok: IOM.

JERRYSON, M., KULISZ, A., & SENIUK, S. (2017, October 4). Buddhist nationalists and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar part I: an introduction to the current crisis. Retrieved from

Kaewkuekoonkit, A. (2016). Assessment of Social Protection Mechanisms for Statelessness: A Case Study of Rohingya People in Thailand. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University.

Legacy Phuket Gazette. (2013, June 4). Phuket officials scramble over missing Rohingya. Retrieved October 2017, 26, from

Letchamanan, H. (2013). Myanmar’s Rohingya Refugees in Malaysia: Education and the way forward. Journal of International and Comparative Education, 2013, Volume 2, Issue 2, 89.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (2015). Thailand’s Progress Report on Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts. Bangkok: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Otter, V. d. (2007). Urban asylum seekers and Forced Migration Review (28), 49-50.

Panyangnoi, W. (2016). Muslim-Rohingya Kon Rai Pan Din: Prawattisart Chartpun le Kwam Kat Yeng [Muslim-Rohingya: Stateless Persons, Ethnics History and the Conflict]. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Darawan Karn Pim.

Prachachart News. (2015, May 6). Kae Roy Pun Ha Ka Buan Karn ‘Ka Ma Nut’ Lang Karanee 26 Sob Rohingya Para Bon Ba ‘Big Too’ [Investigation on human trafficking trail after finding 26 Rohingya bodies, the big task of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha]. Retrieved November 5, 2017, from newsid=1430909480.

Sabates-Wheeler, R., & Waite, M. (2003). Migration and Social Protection. Sussex: Institute of Development Studies, Sussex.

Saisoonthorn, P. K. (2009, November 17). Tob Khun Sum Ran Rueng Book Kon Tee Mai Mee Satana Thanh Thabian: Kue Krai? Mee Sit Kae Nai Nai Prathed Thai? [Answer Mr. Samran in the topic of unregistered persons: Who are they? which rights they have?]. Retrieved from %25E0%25B9%2588%25E0%25B8%25B2

Schierup, C.-U., Hansen, P., & Castles, S. (2006). Migration, Citizenship, and the European Welfare State: A European Dilemma. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Slezak, A., Singer, T., & Ramadurai, R. (2015). Stateless and Fleeing Persecution: The Situation of the Rohingya in Thailand. Children’s Legal Rights Journal Vol. 35, 50.

South China Morning Post. (2017, July 20). Thai general is jailed for 27 years in human-trafficking case, as rights groups press for justice. Retrieved October 17, 2017, from

The Equal Rights Trust and The Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies. (2014). Equal Only in Name: The Human Rights of Stateless Rohingya in Malaysia. London: Equal Rights Trus.

The Straits Times. (2015, July 3). Asean to stamp out human trafficking. Retrieved October 26, 2017, from

Ullah, A. A. (2016). Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Seeking Justice for the “Stateless”. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 32(3), 292.

UNHCR. (2014). Southeast Asia Irregular Maritime Movements January-November 2014. Bangkok: UNHCR.

Wake, C., & Cheung, T. (2016). HPG Working Paper: Livelihood strategies of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia ‘We want to live in dignity’. London: HPG Humanitarian Policy Group.




How to Cite

Kaewkuekoonkit, Ankana, and Supang Chantavanich. 2018. “Rohingya in Thailand: Existing Social Protection in Dynamic Circumstances”. ASIAN REVIEW 31 (1):5-22.



Research Articles