Ro­hingya chil­dren suf­fer

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

WHILE the eyes of the world are fo­cused on the 650 000 refugees who have fled across the bor­der into Bangladesh, 60 000 Ro­hingya chil­dren re­main for­got­ten and trapped in squalid camps in cen­tral Rakhine.

Many are liv­ing in crowded “long­houses” where dis­ease can eas­ily spread. The sit­u­a­tion has be­come worse since hu­man­i­tar­ian aid has been re­stricted in camps and the rest of Rakhine – leav­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in des­per­ate need.

The army is now us­ing starvation as a cruel tac­tic to drive the re­main­ing com­mu­ni­ties of the Muslim Ro­hingya mi­nor­ity out of Myan­mar.

The sit­u­a­tion is made all the worse by the se­vere re­stric­tions Myan­mar has im­posed on aid groups in north­ern Rakhine state.

The Myan­mar state has his­tor­i­cally adopted strate­gies of “oth­er­ing” the Ro­hingya, de­hu­man­is­ing them as “il­le­gal Ben­galis”.

The Ro­hingya have been iso­lated from so­ci­ety, forced into squalid, ope­nair pris­ons, con­fined to par­tic­u­lar vil­lages and de­nied op­por­tu­ni­ties to earn a liv­ing. They have been ha­rassed though ex­clu­sion and vi­o­lent in­tim­i­da­tion.

They suf­fer des­ti­tu­tion, mal­nu­tri­tion, starvation and se­vere phys­i­cal and men­tal ill­ness as a re­sult of re­stric­tions on move­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, mar­riage and child­birth. Then there’s the ever-present threat of vi­o­lence and ex­tor­tion.

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple from other com­mu­ni­ties – in­clud­ing Rakhine Bud­dhists, Hin­dus and var­i­ous mi­nor­ity groups – have also been af­fected by the vi­o­lence.

In some of the most shock­ing rev­e­la­tions, UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­tailed re­ports of child tor­ture and rape, and the case of a preg­nant woman whose un­born child had been cut out of her womb.

All the while, Ro­hingya vil­lages con­tinue to burn, many of their in­hab­i­tants mur­dered.

More than half of the Ro­hingya pop­u­la­tion of north­ern Rakhine have been forcibly dis­placed. Riyaad Dhai

Westville

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

A Ro­hingya refugee child car­ries an in­fant.

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