The Rohingya Refugees Drama

Thousands of Rohingyas cross the border into Bangladesh each day, fleeing the persecution of the Burmese government. (Dar Yasin / AP)

In less than a year, almost the entire population of this ethnic group has fled Burma to save their lives

Temas Worldwide, there are more than 17 million refugees, according to data from UNHCR (United Nations Agency for Refugees). Most live in refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East, where the worst wars and armed conflicts take place.

However, in the last year, one of the worst refugee crises in recent history has erupted outside these regions. Rohingyas, a Muslim minority living in Burma, have been forced to flee their homes to escape the persecution of the Burmese government.

About 900,000 Rohingyas have crossed the border between Burma and Bangladesh and now live in refugee camps. The largest, that of Kutupalong, welcomes more than 600,000 people.

From Revolt to Prosecution

It all started on August 25, 2017, when a group of Rohingya insurgents attacked several police precincts in Burma and killed 12 agents.

The Rohingya have lived for generations in Burma, but they are a Muslim minority in a Buddhist country. The Burmese government has always discriminated against them and does not recognize them as full citizens. That is why the attacks of August were used as an excuse to start prosecution.

The Burmese security forces began to burn the Rohingya villages, carried out illegal detentions, rapes and torture. Between August and December 2017, at least 9,000 people died being prosecuted by the authorities in Burma.

Surprisingly though, one of the leaders of the Burmese government is Aung San Suu Ky, an activist who fought for democratic rights in Burma and faced the military dictatorship that controlled the country for decades. In 1991 he received the Nobel Peace Prize.

But despite international pressure and having herself under house arrest for 15 years, Suu Ky has denied the prosecution of the Rohingyas and has ignored criticism from the UN and NGOs.

The Dangers at Camps

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have crossed the border from Burma, walking through the jungle, and now live in very precarious conditions in improvised refugee camps in Bangladesh.

At these camps, NGO members try to help refugees by covering basic needs such as food or medical care.

Unfortunately, almost half a million children have been left with no access to education, which could have serious consequences in the future. Many have made it to the camps alone, after their families getting killed having lived traumatic experiences.

During the rainy season, between June and September, refugee camps also suffer the threat of cyclones. Torrential rains and strong winds can cause great damage to refugee houses, built precariously with plastic and sticks.

The storm can also have a serious effect on health systems and drinking water, resulting in the appearance of contagious diseases.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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Llicenciada en Traducció i Periodisme per la Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Actualment és redactora en cap de Junior Report. Ha treballat a l’Agencia EFE, al diari ARA i com a traductora i periodista 'freelance' en diferents mitjans.


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