Anniversary of the Rohingya genocide (August 25)

Incredible hardship in the camps, no hope for improvement (Press Release)

August 25, 2021, marks the fourth anniversary of the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) reported, there are still up to one million people living in huge camps – without hope for improvement. As a consequence of the military coup at the beginning of the year, the chances for substantial progress have become extremely slim.

Dr. Ambia Perveen, medical doctor and head of the organization Rohingya Medics, stated: "The need in the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesch, but also in other camps in the neighboring countries, is unimaginable – you have to see it with your own eyes. The shelters are made of thin plastic, and there is no functioning waste water system. Due to the bad hygienic conditions, many people have eczema. The children have bloated bellies due to malnourishment, as there is hardly anything to eat except rice." At the same time, many people are suffering from mental health problems – especially the many victims of rape. "There are a lot of suicides in the camps, as many people are unable to process their traumas. Young girls and women are ostracized and discriminated against if they were raped. Often, they are forced into prostitution as a consequence. Some are sold as slaves," Dr. Perveen reported.

Meanwhile, the government of Bangladesh is trying to resettle up to 100.000 Rohingya refugees to the island of Bashan Char in order to relieve the overcrowded camps. However, the island has so far been uninhabited for good reasons: during the monsoon season, it is regularly flooded. According to Dr. Perveen, the refugees on the mainland are urged to relocate with false promises. "And if they try to leave the island again because of the untenable conditions, they are forced to stay there." Bangladesh is not the only country responsible for the catastrophic situation of the Rohingya. The international community must provide much more support for this bitterly poor country to help the needy.

In their home country Myanmar, the Rohingya have been persecuted and suppressed for decades. About 30 years ago, all members of this ethnic group were collectively deprived of their citizenship. Since then, they don't have any rights. On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar army started a genocide-campaign that was said to be directed against "Rohingya militants". The government forces drove people out of their homes, burned down villages, and raped many girls and women. Hundreds were killed and buried in mass graves. At least 6.700 Rohingya were killed, including 730 children younger than five years of age. Far more than a million people fled to the neighboring countries, mainly to Bangladesh.  

Gambia has brought charges of genocide against Myanmar before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. An independent commission of inquiry has already confirmed that what happened in Myanmar is to be seen as a genocide.