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Ask yourself: how would you survive in your home country if you had no proof of citizenship or even of your existence? How would your children grow up with minimal access to a school or even a hospital? What would you do if one day, after years of discrimination, your home village was attacked by gunmen? Your neighbors killed as their children looked on? Homes burned to the ground? If you're Rohingya, you grab your children, take what possessions you can carry, and you run for your life.

Three years ago this week, that is exactly what hundreds of thousands of traumatized Rohingya had to do.…  Seguir leyendo »

Flooding in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on Thursday as a result of Cyclone Amphan. (Mayyu Ali)

Cox’s Bazar — In what is often described as the world’s largest refugee settlement, Rohingya refugees who have fled genocide in Myanmar are enduring one disaster after another.

On March 24, Bangladesh confirmed the first covid-19 case in the city of Cox’s Bazar. Since then, the government imposed a lockdown in the area, including for the camps where more than 1 million Rohingya refugees — myself included — are surviving. On May 14, Bangladesh reported the first two confirmed cases within the camps itself — a Rohingya refugee and a local Bangladeshi person.

The nightmare of what we and the world have feared for months had finally arrived at our doorsteps — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees walk in a market area in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh on March 24. (Suzauddin Rubel/AFP via Getty Images)

The coronavirus has unleashed so many problems around the world that it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all. Even so, it’s worth taking a moment to consider the situation facing one of the planet’s most vulnerable groups. They’ve been persecuted, maligned and terrorized — and now they’re preparing to confront the virus with minimal protection.

In the summer and fall of 2017, the Myanmar military launched a campaign of terror against the ethnic group known as the Rohingya, driving some 700,000 of them across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. Myanmar’s predominantly Buddhist ruling elite has long discriminated against the Muslim Rohingya, treating them as a nefarious alien presence in the country’s midst even though most have lived there for generations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees gathered in Bangladesh on Aug. 28 on the second anniversary of the 2017 refugee crisis. Credit K.M. Asad/LightRocket, via Getty Images

Late last month, some 200,000 Rohingya living in refugee camps in southeastern Bangladesh gathered to mark the anniversary of the brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military that drove more than 700,000 people to flee western Myanmar in August 2017. Citing security concerns, the Bangladeshi government promptly banned phone companies from providing mobile services to the refugees living in the camps of Cox’s Bazar — one million or so. The authorities have become increasingly worried about an uptick in crime in and around the camps, an increase in drug smuggling from Myanmar and the potential influence of foreign jihadists among the Rohingya.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bangladesh is once again calling for the establishment of "safe zones" for the Rohingya in Myanmar so that it can begin resettling some of the 1 million or so refugees in its care around the district of Cox's Bazar . This is not the first time the government in Dhaka has pushed for this. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina pressed Myanmar on the issue before the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017.

Now, Bangladesh's new foreign minister, Abulkalam Abdul Momen , has started lobbying Russia, China and India, as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, to try to use their influence to persuade Myanmar to establish safe zones within its territory.…  Seguir leyendo »

Empowering Rohingya Women

During the second half of 2017, an estimated 671,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar due to systemic violence perpetrated against the ethnic group, including killings, rape, and torture. Much of this violence, allegedly committed by Myanmar’s armed forces, specifically targeted women and girls. Pramila Patten, United Nations Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, stated that the organized gang rape of Rohingya women was “a calculated tool of terror aimed at the extermination and removal of the Rohingya as a group.” Adding to the trauma of this campaign of sexual violence, many Rohingya women continue to experience sexual exploitation and violence after reaching the refugee camps in Bangladesh.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees rebuild their makeshift house, in preparation for the approaching monsoon season at the Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. April 28, 2018. (A.M. Ahad/AP)

On my first visit to this immense refugee settlement on Bangladesh’s border with Myanmar, I crossed a bamboo bridge that refugees had built. It spanned a stream and connected an old settlement, where Rohingya refugees from previous waves of forced displacement have lived for decades, to the new one, now a sprawling city where more than 600,000 have taken shelter.

The bridge is a vital artery for the refugees here. It allows them to carry jerrycans, blankets and solar lamps from a distribution point in the old settlement to their families in the much larger new settlement. The stream becomes a river when it rains; when the refugees first arrived, the only way across was to swim until they were able to suspend several stalks of bamboo just above water level.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya children in a refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, this week. Bangladesh is expected to compile lists of refugees wanting to return to Myanmar on a voluntary basis. Credit Damir Sagolj/Reuters

On Nov. 23, the governments of Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement to return the Rohingya refugees — more than 600,000 people who escaped from Rakhine state in western Myanmar to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh — after ethnic cleansing carried out by Myanmar’s armed forces since August.

Bangladesh is expected to compile lists of refugees wanting to return on a voluntary basis. Myanmar intends to verify each application to establish whether a refugee is eligible for repatriation. The returnees must provide copies of identity cards and documents certifying the address of their residence in Myanmar.

It might create the illusion of a policy decision by two governments moving toward addressing a shared refugee crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mohammed Shoaib, 7, who was shot on his chest before crossing the border from Burma in August, shows his injury outside a medical center after seeing a doctor at Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on Nov. 5, (Adnan Abidi/Reuters)

They may be out of harm’s way, for now, but their ordeal continues. Over the past two months, more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed the border from Burma, also known as Myanmar, to seek shelter in Bangladesh. Not since the Rwandan genocide has a humanitarian crisis unfolded so fast and on such a scale. If one counts the hundreds of thousands who were already based here, driven out by earlier waves of violence in Rakhine state, there are now more than a million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

At first, the new arrivals were welcomed. Across Bangladesh, there is an outpouring of sympathy for the persecuted minority who have been driven from their homes by a harrowing campaign of torture, rape, killings, arson and other human rights violations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mexican Secretariat of Government

Undocumented Migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America

Flows of undocumented migrants from Central America, through Mexico and toward the U.S. have given rise to a humanitarian emergency, albeit one that at present is largely treated by Washington as a national security menace and a justification for tougher border control. Originally driven by economic hardship, this northbound migration owes its intensity and longevity to multiple causes that make controlling or reducing it extremely hard. Mass victimisation of vulnerable migrants in transit has become the norm and could well be aggravated by Washington’s growing anti-immigration agenda. In this context, the European Union (EU) should adapt its current strategies in Central America to promote a more comprehensive approach to the protection of migrants.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees describe Myanmar’s military as beating, sexually assaulting and shooting villagers, including children. (Ismail Ferdous/Bloomberg News)

More than half a million Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar since late August, escaping what U.N. officials have described as a classic case of ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar’s army launched comprehensive attacks on Rohingya villages in the country’s Rakhine state after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) — a Rohingya militant group — attacked Myanmar’s police. The country’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are essentially stateless. Their government claims they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, but many Rohingya say they have lived in Myanmar for generations. Accounts of their origin vary — some historians trace them back to 15th century Arab, Turkish, or Mongol migrants, while others claim they have come from Bangladesh in phases.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Bangladeshi border guard sending Rohingya back across the border into their makeshift camp in Myanmar in August. Credit Adam Dean for The New York Times

Close to one million Rohingya from Myanmar are said to be living in Bangladesh at the moment, nearly half of them having fled since late August. The exodus is one of the world’s worst refugee crises in decades, and so far Bangladesh, already a very poor country, has borne much of the burden.

The sudden influx of so many refugees has created a major humanitarian emergency and raises security concerns. There’s also a less-well-understood effect: The Rohingya refugee crisis is shaking Bangladesh’s body politic to the core, and in ways that may hasten the country’s ongoing slide toward authoritarianism.

Many Bangladeshis, the great majority of whom also are Muslim, support their government’s decision to shelter the refugees, despite the costs and the risks.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. Photo: Getty Images.

The harrowing scenes of human suffering on the Myanmar–Bangladesh border have provoked outpourings of sympathy and some firm statements by international politicians. At least half a million people have been brutally expelled from their homes and are now living in miserable conditions in muddy refugee camps and storm-drenched shanty towns. As the international community debates how to respond, it needs to take a clear-eyed view of the situation and recognise a brutal truth: the refugees are almost certainly not going home.

Consequently, policymakers must not hide behind the fiction that Bangladesh is only temporarily hosting the refugees in preparation for their rapid return home.…  Seguir leyendo »

A boat with 158 migrants is spotted by the Italian coast guard in Lampedusa, Italy, on 8 July 2011. MAGNUM/Patrick Zachmann

When world leaders meet in New York next week for summit meetings hosted by the UN and the U.S. to tackle the global refugee crisis, they must redouble their efforts to resolve those conflicts driving the global exodus and to prevent new conflicts before the emergency is compounded. Additionally, leaders should commit to resettle at least 10 per cent of the world’s refugees annually, share responsibilities more equitably, increase support for front-line states facing the greatest challenges, and respect fully the rights of refugees.

The number of refugees and internally displaced now stands at more than 65 million, the largest figure ever recorded.…  Seguir leyendo »

Migrants believed to be Rohingya rest inside a shelter after being rescued from boats at Lhoksukon in Indonesia’s Aceh Province May 11, 2015. REUTERS/Roni Bintang

Myanmar is currently in the throes of a massive humanitarian crisis. Thousands of ethnic Rohingya are fleeing persecution. Boarding overcrowded boats (and often enduring horrific conditions), they’re going to countries scarcely able to help them — or in some cases, frankly, not interested in helping them.

How did this happen?

Who are the Rohingya?

The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority in the majority Buddhist Myanmar. Many of their enemies refuse to acknowledge that the Rohingya are an ethnically distinct group. They claim instead that the Rohingya are Bengali and that their presence in Myanmar is the result of illegal immigration (more on that later).…  Seguir leyendo »

Bangladeshi migrant Mohammad Murad Hussein, with scars on his head and body, breaks down at Langsa port in Aceh, Indonesia after he was rescued by Indonesian fishermen.

Indonesian politicians, including Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, have exercised caution in their public statements on allegations that Australian officials paid people smugglers to return a boatload of asylum seekers to Indonesia.

The Indonesian government has so far tried not to accuse Australia of wrongdoing without strong evidence.

But Indonesia is demanding answers. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said: "It's not difficult for Australia to answer my question ... regarding the issue of payment, and not to distract on the issue."

Indonesian officials should continue to respect the Australian government's decision not to publicly disclose operational or tactical matters regarding border security. Provocative remarks will only aggravate, rather than ease, tensions in the bilateral relationship.…  Seguir leyendo »

Boats carrying thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been abandoned in the Andaman sea. Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images

In 1971 Ravi Shankar and George Harrison organised a concert in New York City’s Madison Square Gardens to fund relief efforts for war-torn Bangladesh. The album featured the image of a starving child on the cover, which became a symbol of an impoverished country emerging out of the rubble of war. Forty-four years later, another image is now associated with Bangladesh: that of the abandoned refugees who float on the Andaman Sea with no hope of rescue.

We’ve all seen the photographs of these refugees. We’ve seen them hanging their emaciated limbs off the sides of their boats. We’ve seen the scars on their backs,earned in fights over scarce food and water.…  Seguir leyendo »