Forging Paths: Understanding Rohingya Refugees’ Livelihood Challenges in Nepal
This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the living conditions of Rohingya refugees in Nepal, with a particular focus on their needs for food, employment, shelter, and access to healthcare and education services. Through a thematic analysis of interview data, the study discusses how the relationship between the refugees and the local Nepali community shapes refugees’ ability to access essential services. Additionally, it explores the interactions between the refugees and local communities as well as the Nepali government, and analyses how these interactions influence the security concerns and future aspirations of the refugees.
The findings indicate that factors such as acceptance, mutual understanding, and cooperation between host communities and refugees positively influence refugees’ access to food security, suitable shelter, better employment opportunities and some level of integration into Nepali society. Conversely, strained or negative interactions with the host community exacerbate the challenges faced by the refugees, impeding their capacity to fulfil basic livelihood needs. The paper also discerns that the absence of communication and engagement between host governments, host communities, and refugees can have adverse effects. It not only hampers refugees’ ability to practise their religious customs and festivals but also generates a sense of fear and vulnerability, undermining their aspirations for integration, resettlement, and the prospect of returning to a safer homeland. Likewise, contextual factors, including cultural differences, language barriers, and socio-economic dynamics seem to further complicate the relationship between Rohingya refugees and the host community.
Keywords: Rohingya refugees, livelihood conditions, host-refugee relationships, Nepal, qualitative research.