Exodus at Kutupalong

03a_Rohingya_2008-11Mark McDonald and 3QD friend Wolf Böwig on the Rohingya (photo by Wolf Böwig with more amazing images in the piece):

The Rohingya number about 750.000 in Burma. But the military junta does not recognize them as one of the 135 “national races” in the mostly Buddhist nation. And so, in the face of forced labor, arbitrary arrest, stolen land and even starvation, they flee to the makeshift camp (an adjoining settlement of 20.000 residents has water, electricity and other basic services. Run by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, it is known as the official Kutupalong camp. Some Rohingya have lived there for more than a decade.)

Every day more Rohingya arrive at the Bangladeshi camps, stateless, sun-blasted refugees carrying their meager bundles. The newcomers, largely from Rakhine State in Burma, are often so traumatized that they’re unable to tell aid workers what they have fled.

Another one million Rohingya are scattered about the world – there has been a major diaspora from South Asia in recent decades – and they have flung themselves from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan to Thailand to Indonesia. The men lay asphalt and pour cement in Riyadh. They haul fishing nets in the Andaman Sea. They pull rickshaws in Jakarta. The children, with their small hands, peel shrimp and weave carpets in Karachi.