The Rohingya and what's behind their exodus

The Rohingya and what's behind their exodus

Rohingya creek
A Rohingya family reaches the Bangladesh border after crossing a creek of the Naf river on the border with Myanmmar, in Cox's Bazar's Teknaf area, on Sep 5, 2017. (Photo: AP/Bernat Armangue)

Rohingya Muslims are often referred to as the world's most persecuted minority.

Violence in late August sent many more fleeing from the Rakhine state across the border to Bangladesh.

Who are the Rohingya?

They have lived as a people in Myanmar for centuries, mostly in the north-western Rakhine state, but are not recognised as citizens in the Buddhist-majority country. The government claims they are Bangladeshi or Bengali.

Why are they fleeing to Bangladesh?

The latest violence in the state began on Aug 25, when Rohingya insurgents attacked dozens of police posts and an army base.

The ensuing clashes and a military counter-offensive have killed at least 400 people and triggered the exodus of about 146,000 villagers into neighbouring Bangladesh, bringing their total to 233,000 since October, the United Nations said.

Bangladesh does not officially recognise them as refugees, however.

Where are they fleeing to?

Most end up in the Cox's Bazar region of Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya already live in makeshift camps.

Many died along the way as they make the journey by land, river and sea.

Map of Rohingya crisis (Sep 5, 2017)

What is Myanmar's stance on the exodus?

The treatment of the approximately 1.1 million-strong minority is the biggest challenge facing Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is accused by Western critics of not speaking out for them.

She has come under increasing diplomatic pressure from countries with large Muslim populations, such as Bangladesh, Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan, to protect Rohingya civilians.

On Wednesday, she blamed "terrorists" for "a huge iceberg of misinformation" on the violence in Rakhine state but made no mention of the hundreds of thousands who have fled over the border since Aug 25.

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Source: Agencies/jp