Aug 25, 2022 - World

Rohingya suffer "unimaginable consequences" 5 years after fleeing Myanmar

Rohingya refugees take part in "Genocide Remembrance Day" rally to mark five years since fleeing Myanmar. Photo: Munir uz Zaman/AFP via Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya in Bangladesh and elsewhere continue to suffer "unimaginable consequences" five years after fleeing the Myanmar military's bloody campaign against them.

The big picture: The Rohingya, the majority of whom are Muslim, have been described as the "world's most persecuted minority." Thousands were killed and 745,000 displaced in 2017 as Myanmar's military intensified its yearslong campaign against the ethnic minority in what the U.S. and other countries have declared a "genocide" — a declaration Myanmar rejects.

  • Today, nearly 1 million Rohingya — half of whom are children — continue to live in squalid conditions in overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they are largely unable to work, their movements are restricted and rights groups say their human rights are violated.
  • Previous attempts to allow the Rohingya to safely return to Myanmar have failed, and the security situation in the southeast Asian nation has only deteriorated since last year's military coup.
  • Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others are displaced in Myanmar, where they continue to face persecution and violence.

What they're saying: “We had enough, we want to go back to home to Myanmar soon,” Azra Khatun, a Rohingya refugee, told Al Jazeera from Bangladesh. “So that our children can get some education and have a normal and decent life."

  • Another Rohingya refugee, Kotiza Begum, echoed those comments in an interview with the BBC. "The children go to school every day, but there's no development for them. I don't think they're getting a good education," she said.
A child is seen at refugee camp where Rohingya people, fleeing due to the long-standing oppression and violence.
A child is seen at a refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Md. Kamruzzaman/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The big picture: The UN, U.S., and other countries and groups this week renewed their support for the Rohingya and vowed to help pursue justice at international courts.

  • USAID administrator Samantha Power said in a statement that her agency "denounces the actions of the military leaders who orchestrated the genocide" against the Rohingya. "The survivors now face unimaginable consequences — displacement, trauma, and suffering."
  • Secretary of State Tony Blinken added in a separate statement that the U.S. continues to support the independent investigation established by the UN Human Rights Council into human rights violations in Myanmar, The Gambia's case against Myanmar at the International Criminal Court of Justice and other cases at courts worldwide.

Yes, but: Five years on, the UN faces a funding shortfall, with less than half of its $880 million appeal raised so far this year.

  • "Stateless and displaced, their plight must not be forgotten. The Rohingya and their host communities must be supported until they are able to return home in safety," tweeted Gillian Triggs, the UN refugee agency’s assistant high commissioner for protection.
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