Sounding the Alarm on the Rohingya Crisis – Podcast with Eric Schwartz and Jeremy Konyndyk

October 03, 2017

You've seen the headlines: Hundreds of villages burned. Hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Myanmar for Bangladesh—and in just one month. 

"In humanitarian terms, it's as desperate a situation as you can imagine,” says Eric Schwartz of Refugees International. We’re talking about the Rohingya—an ethnic minority group in Myanmar now facing what the UN has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” 

Schwartz is my guest on this week’s CGD podcast, along with Jeremy Konyndyk, CGD senior policy fellow and former director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance. I asked them both: what can the international community, and especially the US, do about the plight of the Rohingya? Here’s a preview of their response: 


“Minimally, we need to be shouting from the rooftops about this horror, and we need to be doing it at the highest level, and we need to be doing it day in and day out,” Schwartz says. “Because our values demand it, but our interests demand it as well.” 

“There’s a story that [President George W Bush] was briefed on what happened in Rwanda, and said, ‘Not on my watch,’” Konyndyk tells me. “This is a ‘not on my watch’ moment for the Trump Administration and everyone who works in it, and I would hope they treat it accordingly.” 

To learn more, listen to the full podcast at the top of this page and read Jeremy's blog post on how the US should respond to the Rohingya crisis. For innovative solutions to help refugees, check out our reports on refugee compacts and private sector engagement


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.