Findings: Exploring the Experience of Violence and Loss of Dignity Among Rohingyas in Bangladesh and Internally Displaced People in Afghanistan

A Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2019

About the project


This British Academy funded study (2018-2022) tracked the experiences of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Afghanistan and forcibly displaced Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who are currently living in Bangladesh. It traced their dignity journey from their homes to the camps or other settlements where they were living. 

The main focus of the study was to understand how the IDPs and Rohingyas conceptualise dignity though their lived experiences. The traditional top-down conceptualisation of dignity often ignores the importance, experience and perception of dignity (and loss of it) from the perspective of the ‘victim’ group. 

This study offers important critical insight in realising how the displaced view a good and dignified life for a positive future in which their wellbeing needs to be protected.

Project team

Palash Kamruzzaman, Kate Williams, Ali Wardak

Main findings

Drawing on their lived experiences in displacement and experiencing violence along the way, the IDPs and the Rohingyas conceptualised dignity in multiple different ways.

The study reports show that there are some common features of dignity among the IDPs and Rohingya perception of dignity, namely:

  • Safety, and protection from violence and sexual abuse
  • Compassion, solidarity, and mutual respect
  • Religious and cultural values
  • Wealth, prosperity and self-reliance
  • Knowledge and education 

In addition, this study also identified contextual differences in understanding how the IDPs and Rohingyas perceive and describe dignity. These include peace and security; identity, freedom and rights; and shelter, food and basic needs.


The findings of this study would impact the livelihoods of the IDPs and Rohingyas. Empirical evidence of this study can provide various stakeholders (i.e. the governments, donors, international organisations, and civil society) a solid base for making evidence-based policies towards resolving the crises. 

Furthermore, how the victim groups conceptualise dignity (or loss of it) can shed new lights in devising humanitarian programmes that are dignified for the refugees across the world.


Other outputs


Palash Kamruzzaman, and Mohammad Ehsanul Kabir  (2019), Rohingya refugees: focusing only on their return home ignores the crime and health crises in Bangladesh’s camps, The Conversation, 20 June.

Yaseen Ayobi, Ali Wardak and Kate Williams (2020), Afghanistan: stuttering peace process leaves out millions displaced by 40 years of war, The Conversation, 28 May. 

Mohammad Ehsanul Kabir and Palash Kamruzzaman (2020), Frozen Repatriation, Development and Cooperation (D+C), e-Paper no. 2020/03.

Research explores the loss of dignity among displaced people in Bangladesh and Afghanistan



Media interviews

Scope with Waqar Rizvi, Episode 407, Indus News, 22 May 2021.

Scope with Waqar Rizvi, Episode 318, Indus News, 24 October 2020.

Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh struggle with fear and stigma amid coronavirus, South China Morning Post, 13 September, 2020.  

Scope with Waqar Rizvi, Episode 298, Indus News, 10 September 2020.



British Academy logoThis project was funded by the British Academy's Sustainable Development Programme, which works to generate evidence on the challenges and opportunities faced in developing countries, and advance and deepen our understanding of the relevance and importance of the historical context of development, cultures and heritages in addressing sustainable development.

It is supported by the UK Government’s £1.5bn Global Challenges Research Fund, which aims to respond to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.