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Scenes from Bangladesh-Myanmar border, where Rohingyas are seeking refuge

Rohingyas are an ethnic group who are concentrated in Rakhine state, in Buddhist-majority Myanmar

Rezwan | Global Voices 


Teknaf : A Rohingya family reaches the Bangladesh border after crossing a creek of the Naf river on the border with Myanmmar, in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf area. Photo: AP/PTI
Teknaf : A Rohingya family reaches the after crossing a creek of the Naf river on the with Myanmmar, in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf area. Photo: AP/PTI

As has brutally cracked down on Rohingya Muslims, forcing many to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, local Bangladeshi activists, journalists and aid workers have been there to document their difficult trek.

The Rohingya are an ethnic group who are concentrated in Rakhine state, in Buddhist-majority They are denied citizenship and other basic rights by the government, who consider them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though the Rohingyas have roots in that go back centuries.

After a militant group attacked police outposts in Rakhine state, Myanmar's security forces retaliated. Witnesses have described troops shooting civilians and homes being burned.

According to UN sources, more than 123,000 Rohingyas entered Bangladesh in the past week alone. Bangladesh already hosts 400,000 Rohingyas in various settlements, who have arrived over past few decades. While the Bangladesh government has resisted accepting more refugees from during this current crisis, the Bangladeshi people are largely sympathetic to the plight of the Rohingyas.

Shafiur Rahman is one of the people who have been sharing information from his Twitter and Instagram accounts about the stream of Rohingya people arriving at the He is a Bangladeshi-British filmmaker who is working on a documentary about Rohingya women refugees.

On August 26, 2017, he reported that the Bangladeshi guards were not allowing the refugees to cross:

On August 29, 2017, however, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered security forces to treat the refugees humanely as they are fleeing for life. Subsequently, guards began to allow many refugees through.

Rahman also reported that the army was targeting innocent civilians as they flee. His information coincides with other sources who say the same. Myanmar helicopters pursuing alleged Rohingya insurgents have violated Bangladesh’s airspace near Ukhia in Cox’s Bazar multiple times:

The journey to the relative safety of is long and treacherous, Rahman reported:

And once on the side, the face exploitation by unsavory people as there is yet to be formal shelters and aids available for them:

Renowned photojournalist Saiful Huq Omi was also at the border posting images and videos to his Facebook page:

In a recent video report he urged for people to take a stand against Rohingya persecution:

Thousands and thousands and thousands of people are coming. Look at the faces. Look how young they are. And I hope those who think they're nothing but terrorists, I hope you see this child. You see this old man and ask yourself how on earth you can be such a shame for humanity. This is what is happening on the Young child, infants, old man, old woman, and young men are fleeing their motherland and leaving behind the dead bodies of their beloved members of the family. Hardly managing any time to get their things packed […]

They will take this route all the way down the hills and all the way at least few more hours of walk[ing] before they can rest and maybe one kind villager will show up and offer them some food and some water.

Resources are stretched, though the good news is that the government has decided to establish a new camp for the latest influx of refugees. It will take some time to build, however.

It remains to be seen what will happen in the coming days for the displaced Rohingyas whether in their home country or in refugee settlements elsewhere.


This article was published on Global Voices on August 29, 2017.

First Published: Fri, September 08 2017. 10:06 IST
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