In the semi-lit makeshift tent covered with strips of cardboard, five women sit in a huddle. As their young children, covered in specks of mud and soot, move around noisily, the women try to hush them down. Hollow-eyed and visibly malnourished, all the women also appear afraid.
Nobel Laureates Mairead Maguire, Shirin Ebadi and Tawakkol Karman met with more than 100 women refugees in camps in the coastal Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh this week, as well as travelling to the “no man’s land” where thousands of Rohingya have been stranded between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
More than half a million Rohingya refugees crammed into over 30 makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh face a critical situation as the cyclone and monsoon season begins in a few weeks’ time.
Nobel Laureates, Mairead Maguire (Northern Ireland), Shirin Ebadi (Iran) and Tawakkol Karman (Yemen) speak to Rohingya refugees stranded in the no-man’s land between Myanmar and Bangladesh. They promise to seek justice for the Rohingya genocide.
With discussions underway between Bangladesh and Myanmar about the repatriation of more than a half a million Rohingya refugees, many critical questions remain, including how many people would be allowed back, who would monitor their safety, and whether the refugees even want to return to violence-scorched Rakhine state.
The repatriation of Rohingya refugees driven from their villages through violence and terror appears uncertain, with critics saying the agreement legalising the process of their return is both controversial and impractical.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugee women from Myanmar are currently living in the cramped camps along Bangladesh Myanmar border. Victims of sexual and physical violence in the Rakhine state, women have been disproportionately affected by this crisis and these women’s perils are far from over in the host country as they continue to face multifaceted challenges.
Ferdous Begum was cleaning her child after he had defecated in the open, using leaves she collected from a nearby tree at Bangladesh’s Teknaf Nature Park. The settlement is packed with Rohingya refugees who fled military persecution in Myanmar since August.
The world has witnessed innumerable images of the long walk to 'freedom' of Rohingya women, children and men. Some trudged for endless hours and days, many carrying elderly parents and babies in baskets, with the women suffering the unimaginable trauma having been victims of rape, torture and harassment.
Twelve-year-old Rubina still struggles with the horrors she witnessed in her homeland in Myanmar before fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh three months ago.
Over 800 000 of the 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims from the Rakhine state in Myanmar have been on the run for years, fleeing by foot, walking for days at end to seek a safe place for their women and children.
Under pouring rain, hundreds of young and expectant mothers stand in line. With her bare feet and the bottom of her dress covered in mud, Rashida is one of them, clutching her emaciated infant. She lost her husband on the treacherous trek from Myanmar to Bangladesh, and with nowhere to go and her resources exhausted, rain-drenched and standing in this long, muddy line for food and medicine for her child is her only hope.
Afia* lines up her bucket every morning in the refugee camp for water delivery from humanitarian relief workers. On one particularly sweltering day, she kept four water pitchers in a row with gaps between them, hoping to insert another empty container in the space when the water arrived.
Mariam Akhtar, 23, is desperately searching for her young daughter two weeks after arriving from Myanmar in Cox’s Bazar, a southeastern coastal district in Bangladesh.
Parul Akhtar,* a Rohingya woman in her mid-twenties, may never wish to remember the homeland she and her children left about three weeks ago.
In relation to the signing of the “Arrangement on return of displaced persons from Rakhine state”
on 23 November 2017 by the governments of Myanmar and of Bangladesh, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue H. E. Ambassador Idriss Jazairy has issued the following statement.
The Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue (hereinafter “The Geneva Centre”)
Ambassador Idriss Jazairy emphasized - during a lecture on 10 November at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies - that the denial of equal citizenship rights to the Rohingya population is breeding radicalization and inter-communal violence in Myanmar.
As countless refugees arriving on Italy’s shores report torture, extortion and forced labour in Libyan detention centers, many say they never intended to make the journey to Europe until the chaos in Libya left them no other choice.
I try to hold on tight as my driver navigates his motorbike over a bumpy and muddy track. His helmet is decorated with a swastika and an eagle, part of an ill-inspired fashion trend called Nazi chic. It's symbolic for a country where hate and racism seen to have become normalized.
In a quiet street, the sound of children's voices can be heard from an open window. They are reciting verses of the Koran in unison. The small Islamic school lays hidden in a walled neighborhood where only Muslims live. This is an island of tranquility in Mandalay, the second-largest city of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.
As the crisis in Myanmar reaches unprecedented levels, frustration is at its peak as the international community remains slow to respond and act cohesively.