How you can help Rohingya refugees

This week, the United Nations warned the number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh would soon exceed one million. Their suffering is immense; their story bears all the marks of a genocide in progress.

The Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar has been persecuted since the British drew the current map of Southeast Asia, grouping land inhabited by the Rohingya, who are Muslim, into Burma, which is majority Buddhist. The Rohingya, of course, have lived in their lands since the 8th century. Now, neither Myanmar nor neighboring Bangladesh will grant them citizenship.

Rohingya refugees from Myanmar coming ashore in Bangadesh in September. Via UNHCR.

Since 1970, more than 1 million Rohingya people have fled to neighboring countries because of ethnic strife. Horrific attacks have worsened in recent months, and an estimated 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh since August. Major international aid organizations are running refugee camps on the Bangladesh side of the border and providing healthcare, water, and food to the displaced.

The U.N. and humanitarian agencies seek $434 million for the Rohingya refugees.

UNHCR supports many of these makeshift camps by building latrines, wells, extending camp infrastructure, and funding road construction to new camp sites. By mid-October, UNHCR had airlifted to Bangladesh 700 metric tons of life-saving aid, including tents, plastic sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, kitchen sets and jerry cans. Furthers airlifts are planned.

 

UNICEF recently proclaimed that Rohingya children, who make up a majority of refugees fleeing Myanmar, are witnessing a “hell on earth” in the makeshift camps. They have thus far provided safe water to 100,000 people, identified 882 unaccompanied minors, carried out major vaccination campaigns against measles and rubella, and set up 97 mobile and static spaces for children–most of whom have experienced horrific violence to themselves or their families–to receive psychosocial support.

A drawing by a Rohingya boy, Abdul, reveals the horrific experiences he endured while fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Created at a UNICEF-run children friendly space at the Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh.

Other groups on the ground include:

Doctors Without Borders

Islamic Relief USA 

Save the Children

World Food Programme

 

For the most up-to-date information, including the growing number of refugees, access the latest ReliefWeb situation reports.

 

Demand action and accountability

Call up your local representatives and demand justice for Rohingyas. Urge that they support a bipartisan resolution put forward by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The bill condemns the displacement and violence against Rohingyas, demands an immediate end to hostilities by Burmese authorities and calls on the government to allow unrestricted access to humanitarian groups in within Myanmar.

It also calls on Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi to break her shameful silence and inaction.

Send a pre-written message advocating the bill’s passage directly to your member of Congress by filling out this form from Amnesty here.