Since 1947 there has been a regular interchange of population between India and what is now Bangladesh, with Hindus migrating to India and Muslims emigrating from India. There was also substantial migration between Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) and West Pakistan until the 1971 war. Before and during the war, an estimated 8 to 10 million Bengalis fled to India; most of these refugees returned after the independence of Bangladesh was firmly established. Although more than 100,000 Biharis who had sided with Pakistan during the war later migrated to Pakistan, an estimated 238,000 Biharis were still living in 66 refugee camps in Bangladesh at the end of 1993, despite a repatriation agreement signed in 1992.
In 1993, repatriation began of an estimated 56,000 Chakma refugees from the Indian state of Tripura to the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. They had fled unrest in this area. As of May 1997, 47,000 Chakma refugees still live in northeastern India. In 1991–92 about 265,000 Rohingyas—Muslims from Myanmar—fled to Bangladesh to escape repression. Beginning in 1994, over 200,000 of these refugees have returned home to Myanmar (Burma). However, as of 1999, around 22,000 Myanmar refugees still resided in southern Bangladesh in two camps. The repatriation process was suspended in 1997 but resumed in 1998. Nevertheless, the number of returns has been very limited (only 450 between 1998 and 1999) due to procedural difficulties. The UN has urged the governments of both Bangladesh and Myanmar to accelerate the process. Also, talks have been initiated regarding refugee self-reliance programs for those refugees who cannot or will not return. Reforestation and community support activities have been discussed has possible ways to lessen any adverse consequences of refugee presence. Bangladeshi authorities have not responded favorably to the proposed self-reliance programs for refugees, reiterating their position that all refugees must return to their homeland.
As of 2000, there were approximately 988,000 migrants living in Bangladesh. The net migration rate was -0.5 per 1,000 population. The government viewed the emigration level as too low, and the immigration level was deemed satisfactory.