MYANMAR — The Rohingya Refugee Crisis in Myanmar has snowballed for the past few years. Since October 2016, nearly 66,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, and the recent surge in violence and displacement only fuels the intensity of the Exodus and impacts various concerned stakeholder groups. In recent weeks, the recent clashes between the majority Buddhists and minority militant Rohingya groups like the Arakan Tohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) have rocked the capital of Rakine.
The Rohinya: Who are they?
The Rohinya are a Muslim minority group residing in a concentrated portion of Western Myanmar. Since 1990, Rohingya Muslims have been threatened by insurrection, human rights violations and persecution. According to the United Nations, Rohingya Muslims remain the most oppressed minority group in the world.
There is an estimate 400,000 Rohingya in Myanmar; a majority of them are deemed illegal migrants, and are therefore considered ‘stateless’ by the government.
What do they face?
The Rohingya face regular threats at the hands of the Burmese military. The Army is guilty of allegedly committing extra judicial killings. The death toll currently standing at over 104. Villages have been plundered, houses burnt down, and young men and women killed.
However, despite international condemnation, the Myanmar government has vehemently denied partaking in the allegations. The country is preventing the UN panel of experts from participating in preventive and mitigation efforts.
Moreover, there have been over 75,000 Rohingya refugees who have recently tried to cross into neighboring Bangladesh. The Tombru Canal, situated near the borders between Bangladesh and Myanmar, is now a temporary shelter for countless Rohingya refugees, who cross into the canal to gather food, medicines and drinking water.
Who is trying to help?
Pope Francis has also rebuked the violence in recent days. He is planning a scheduled trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh later in the year to help draw more attention to the Rohingya Refugee crisis internationally.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an organization representing 57 states, is uniting East Asian countries to collaboratively help tackle the Rohingya Refugee Crisis with the United Nations. NGOs are also currently undertaking aid efforts by helping in the provision of medical supplies
The UNHCR is imploring Bangladesh to ease its strict border policies so that Rohingya refugees can successfully pass through to the country. Many refugees have been turned down by border security forces near Bangladesh, and a large proportion of these individuals often include women, children and the elderly.
Refugee camps and other informal housing have come under insurmountable pressure due to the sheer number of Rohingya refugees. Conditions at the camps are often poor and local governments, humanitarian agencies and resources are burdened. Yet, the UNHCR is still registering refugees and providing aid and support. Aid workers are also providing the Rohingya with food and shelter in Bangladesh.
It is essential for neighboring countries to work in collaboration with the UN and the Myanmar government to alleviate the problem. Consequently, India is voicing its concerns about the problem and is willing to pledge its support towards addressing the Rohingya Refugee Crisis. Despite not wanting its country to be the source point of the refugees, Malaysia is also open to remediating the issue in future.
Overall, it is essential to address the dire humanitarian emergency the Rohingya Refugee Crisis entails. This will also help address the wider picture concerning the global refugee crisis currently plaguing the world.
– Shivani Ekkanath