What you need to know about the Rohingya refugee crisis and how to help
Hundreds of thousands of innocent people are currently embroiled in a humanitarian crisis that has been called “catastrophic” and “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Rohingya Muslims are facing an ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Some 400,000 have been driven out of the country after facing, or in fear of, myriad forms of violence.
The Rohingya are a majority Muslim ethnic group who have lived in Myanmar, a majority Buddhist country, for centuries. Religious clashes between the Rohingya and Buddhists in Myanmar date back to 1948, when the country became independent from the British. At that time, the Rohingya were not granted citizenship, and their professional and educational opportunities have long been limited, as have other rights: Rohingya need government permission to marry, travel beyond their hometown, or relocate to a new one. Those who live in two of the main cities in the Rakhine state of Myanmar (where most Rohingya settled) are also limited to having two children.
Thousands of Rohingya have fled over the decades, especially since 1991, when Myanmar’s army launched an operation that subjected the Rohingya to forced manual labor, rape, and religious suppression. This oppression has gotten particularly bad recently, though. In October of 2016, nine border police were killed, and the government blamed those murders on the Rohingya. On August 25 of this year, militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked 25 police posts and killed 12 security officers in Rakhine. Ever since this most recent attack, there have been reports of security forces and Buddhist vigilantes attacking Muslims in the state and burning villages. Some estimate as many as 1,000 people have died as a result.
Currently, the refugee crisis is at its worst: nearly 500,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar, and many have entered Bangladesh. The refugees are reportedly starving and Bangladesh authorities want to relocate tens of thousands of those refugees to essentially uninhabitable islands.
The following organisations are currently working to help the victims of this crisis:
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