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Canada’s strategy to respond to the Rohingya and Myanmar crises (2021 to 2024)

Canada stands by the commitments we made in our 2018 strategy to respond to the Rohingya crisis. We must continue with sustained engagement, and provide additional support to help with the new challenges that have emerged.

This next phase of our strategy transitions from crisis-response to advancing durable solutions in Myanmar. It addresses the medium- and longer-term needs of refugees and other crisis-affected populations.

Canada is dedicating $288.3 million from 2021 to 2024 to support the next phase of the Strategy. This second phase will advance efforts toward an inclusive political settlement and sustainable peace in Myanmar, taking into account new realities following the February 2021 military coup, while continuing support for vulnerable and crisis-affected populations in Myanmar and Bangladesh, particularly Rohingya refugees and host communities.

This phase of the Strategy focuses on 4 key objectives:

  • support at-risk and crisis-affected populations in Myanmar and Bangladesh, particularly Rohingya refugees, internally displaced persons, and impacted host communities
  • intensify efforts to advance an inclusive and sustainable peace in Myanmar
  • target support to advance the restoration of democratic rule in Myanmar
  • increase pressure on malign actors, including through continued pursuit of accountability for human rights violations

To achieve these objectives, Canada will increase international cooperation, including through the appointment of a Special Envoy on the Rohingya and Myanmar crises.

This phase builds on previous achievements, lessons learned and consultations with a number of Canada’s partners in Bangladesh and Myanmar following the first phase of our strategy. It continues to be guided by Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, as well as Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. These policies place gender equality at the centre of all programming and include diverse voices of those struggling for a more democratic, inclusive, peaceful and secure future in Myanmar.

Canada will support the voice, agency and empowerment of women and girls in all their diversity and will ensure that programming addresses the root causes of poverty and inequality.

We will support training and capacity building for local community groups and civil society in order to improve access to basic services, including health care. Canada will work with women’s rights organizations, and we will place a greater emphasis on empowering women and girls and the promotion of their rights in both countries.

Social cohesion continues to be an important theme that we will address in various ways, including through self-reliance programming such as skills development, vocational training and support to education.

Building on Ambassador Bob Rae’s legacy and work as Canada’s first Special Envoy to Myanmar, the next Special Envoy on the Rohingya and Myanmar crises will continue Canada’s diplomatic engagement and coordination with key international partners. They will work with the international community to identify medium-term options for relieving some of the burden of hosting refugees that Bangladesh is experiencing, including exploring options for resettlement. This mirrors commitments in the recent Speech from the Throne to strengthen engagement with international partners on peace and security, democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.

This phase of the strategy will be complemented by our continued commitment to deliver life-saving, gender-responsive humanitarian assistance to conflict-affected people in Bangladesh and Myanmar, on the basis of needs.

In Bangladesh

Canada will pursue constructive engagement with key stakeholders, including host communities, through collaboration, advocacy and support for community-identified priority initiatives to:

  • maintain support for the Rohingya refugee response
  • help provide essential services to Rohingya refugees and affected host communities, recognizing pandemic-related challenges
  • provide support for learning through education, skills training and livelihoods, a critical aspect in building resilience and self-reliance 
  • foster social cohesion between refugees and host communities

Our programming will address the unique needs of women and girls of both communities, from survivors of gender-based violence to adolescent girls who face particular barriers to accessing education or skills-building opportunities.

This is crucial to their economic empowerment. Increasing these opportunities will support women and girls to take the lead on and influence decisions affecting their lives and futures, in keeping with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.

Many Rohingya refugees seek to return to Myanmar when safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation can occur. The determination of safety for repatriation is paramount and will be done in consultation with Rohingya refugees. Canada supports programming that lays the foundation for a successful and safe reintegration of Rohingya refugees and a dignified future in Myanmar once the pathway to peace and democracy has been restored.

This includes supporting informal learning opportunities, formal education for children, skills training for youth and livelihood opportunities. This is consistent with our global efforts, including through the Together for Learning campaign, to ensure that all refugee, other forcibly displaced, and host-community children and youth can get the education that they need and deserve.

In Myanmar

Canada will use its diplomatic, development, and peace and security tools to advance prospects for a peaceful, inclusive solution to the political and security crises in Myanmar.

We will work to address the needs of crisis-affected populations, address conflict drivers, and promote the rights and freedoms of all civilians, especially women and girls, as well as at-risk and conflict-affected minority groups such as the Rohingya.

Canada will also continue to place emphasis on empowering women and girls by supporting programs that promote their rights and well-being alongside access to sexual and reproductive health and COVID-related services.

Inclusive opportunities will also be supported across all communities. We will lead in raising the voices and the full and meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding at local, national and international levels, including the voices of women from ethnic minority groups such as the Rohingya.

Besides advocacy, targeted support to return to the path of democracy will seek to build the capacity of civil society organizations and community movements, with a focus on women’s rights organizations. This is critical given the difficult operating environment currently faced by civil society and human rights defenders following the coup. It will enable these actors to better advocate for inclusive democracy and the equal enjoyment of rights, including sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It will also facilitate the participation of people at risk, particularly women and youth, in democratic processes through training, research and partnership development. This targeted support will need to be adaptable, flexible and conflict-sensitive given the evolving situation in Myanmar as a result of the coup.

Learn more about Canada’s international assistance contributions by searching our Project Browser.


Canada’s focus on accountability is not just about seeking justice for survivors and their families, it is about addressing root causes of both the Rohingya crisis and the political crisis in Myanmar, as well as ending impunity.

Accountability also advances protection for the human rights of the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar and those refugees who desire to return to their homes in line with Myanmar’s international obligations.

We will pursue accountability for serious human rights violations, and we will work with the international community to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.

Our efforts include supporting human rights monitoring, collecting evidence and holding perpetrators of serious human rights violations and international crimes accountable through different mechanisms, including the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice.

At the International Court of Justice, Canada has stated its intention to file a joint intervention with the Netherlands in The Gambia’s case against Myanmar alleging violations of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The intervention will assist with the complex legal issues that are expected to arise and will pay special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender-based violence, including rape.

The intervention will focus on supporting continued development of jurisprudence and legal interpretation of the Genocide Convention, with special attention to crimes related to sexual and gender based violence in the context of genocide.

Learn more about our actions to seek accountability from 2018 to 2021 during the first phase of Canada’s response.

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