Over a quarter million Rohingya people flee Burma
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The United Nations’ refugee agency estimated that around 270,000 Rohingya people have fled from Burma to Bangladesh over the span of two weeks. According to reports by the Guardian, Bangladesh border guards are preventing Rohingya people from crossing the border, and the no man’s land between Burma and Thailand is rampant with crime and oppression where not even children escape unscathed.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said the UN had received multiple reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages as well as consistent accounts of extrajudicial killings, including shooting fleeing civilians. According to the Guardian, at least 71 people, including 12 members of the security forces, have been killed in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state after Rohingya militants attacked border police.
On Sunday, Sept. 10, the Rohingya militant group behind the attacks declared a one month unilateral ceasefire to allow aid agencies in, but the Myanmar government rejected it, saying it would not negotiate with “terrorists”.
Aid agencies are left in need of food, medical aid, and other resources necessary to assist and sustain the refugees. “Border relief camps are at capacity,” states the Guardian, and tensions between nations and peoples are strained.
Burma, officially recognized as the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, is a sovereign state in Southeast Asia. Surrounded by Bangladesh, Laos, and Thailand, and with a population size of approximately 51.9 million people, Burma was founded in 1057 on Theravada Buddhism. In 2009, the BBC reported that Thailand expelled hundreds of members of Muslim Rohingya minority who appeared off its coast, yet Myanmar denied the minority’s
In 2013, rioting continued between Muslims and Buddhists. The government and ethnic Kachin rebels in the north continued to battle a year later. 2015 brought a withdrawal of voting rights from Muslim Rohingyas and their flight along with migrants from Bangladesh. It was not until March 2017 that the United Nations human rights council set up an investigation into human rights abuses by the army against the Rohingya Muslim minority.
Today, thousands of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing from the Rakhine state after the Rohingya insurgents’ attacks on police stations provoked a military response. With militants surrounding Muslim Rohingya refugees on all sides, human rights are an issue of high contention, and humanitarian efforts are slowly making their way to help, whether spiritually, physically, or emotionally.