The Rohingya Plight Worsens Amidst Heavy Monsoon Rainfall
Since July 4th, heavy monsoon rains and wind have pounded the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar with deaths, displacement and major damage following in their wake.
The Rohingya Muslim population of Myanmar is under dire attack by extremist Buddhist security forces in their home country.
According to the organisation Defending Victims of Violence, “They are the people with no home or citizenship. While the Myanmar Government dispute the Rohingya people's status as Burmese citizens, it's indisputable that Rohingya people have been living in Burma for generations. Also indisputable is their displacement across the Asia-Pacific and ongoing abuse and exploitation. According to the UN, they are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.”
The attack on them ranges in form from discrimination, to complete social segregation. They are denied citizenship; they are labelled illegal immigrants, are not granted access to healthcare, transport, education, or other basic services; they have had all their liberties curtailed and are forced to live in ghettoes, and pass through multiple checkpoints, where they might be stopped, assaulted, and attacked at any time.
The Rohingya belong to an ethnic Muslim group that, according to one narrative, has lived for centuries in the Rakhine district in western Myanmar. Their history dates back to the early 7th century when Arab Muslim traders settled in that area. The counter-narrative to this history of a long-established presence, most often claimed by the Buddhist extremists, is that the Rohingya are a group of people who have recently migrated from Bangladesh.
The UN estimates that there are around 800,000 Rohingya in Myanmar, which includes people of Bengal heritage who settled centuries ago, as well as all those people who have entered the country in recent years.
The law in Myanmar considers as citizens only those who settled in the country before independence in 1948. All immigrants who arrived after that are officially considered illegal. Protracted violence and endless persecution forced around 20,000 Rohingya to flee to neighboring Bangladesh in the 1980s and the 90s, where they lived in a number of unofficial and official camps.
The Rohingyas have often been called the world’s most forgotten abused people; the international community has not been able to offer them adequate protection, nor relief from persecution over the years.
Thus, it is said that the Rohingya are both stateless and refugees. The rejection of citizenship rights, the lack of freedom of movement, the widespread forced labour, the removal of immovable assets, violence, and torture contribute to making them stateless refugees.
In Rakhine, where the conflict is centered, Burmese security forces expelled more than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims in a 2017 campaign the United Nations says was carried out with "genocidal intent". And now, in Rakhine, Myanmar's military is waging a new war.
The U.N says more than 35,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since January 2019 because of the fighting.
At present, 80 percent of Rohingya are entirely dependent on food assistance from the UN’s World Food Program, half of whom receive food distribution rations and the other half through e-vouchers, costing the UN agency $24 million monthly to feed almost 900,000 people. Currently, the WFP has enough extra food in stock to feed the entire camp population of over 900,000 people for two weeks, if needed.
However, the situation has gotten worse since July 4th, as heavy monsoon rains and wind have pounded the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar with deaths, displacement, and major damage following in their wake, the WFP told Reuters on Friday.
Over 45,000 individuals have been affected by weather-related incidents since the end of April, and throughout the rains, WFP has been providing rapid food assistance, including cooked meals, high energy biscuits, and dry food such as rice, lentils, and oil, to thousands of refugees affected by monsoon rainfall.
How can you help? Spread the word. Force our political leaders and international representation into action. Ensure that the plight of thousands is heard by the powerful forces in the world. And if you can afford it - donate. Give money to the World Food Program, and you could be helping a family survive.