Rohingya children suffer
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
A Rohingya refugee child carries an infant.