Stateless

Rohingya’s are often described as “the world’s most persecuted minority”. They are an ethnic group, majority are Muslim, who have lived for centuries in the majority Buddhist Myanmar. Currently, there are about 1.1 million Rohingya who live in the Southeast Asian country.

Although they had lived for generations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the military junta’s 1982 Citizenship Act rendered them stateless. As a result, the Muslim Rohingya were excluded from mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s official list of 135 ethnic groups; so most of their children have no access to medical help and are not allowed to attend school.

300,000 Rohingya had already fled to neighboring Bangladesh, when the exodus of another 600,000 Rohingya began in August 2017 after Rohingya militants attacked several police posts. In the face of this humanitarian crisis, the UN spoke of “ethnic cleansing”, “crimes against humanity” and “genocide”.

Thousands have crossed the border on foot or, such as the woman in the picture, by boat. With them they bring the experience of mass killings and rape. Their villages and fields: burned. Their belongings: destroyed. Their families its humanitarian disaster. Among its victims are approximately 320,000 children.

The massive numbers of new arrivals have overwhelmed existing facilities for refugees in Bangladesh, and the humanitarian response has been scattered. People are living in makeshift shelters of mud and plastic sheeting in flood-prone areas. There is little if any access to clean water, food, latrines, or health care—leaving people extremely vulnerable to illness and disease outbreaks.