For Rohingya Refugees, There’s No Return in Sight

Why They Remain Stuck in Bangladesh

A Rohingya refugee child at Unchiparang refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, January 2018 Tyrone Siu / Reuters

The Rohingya Muslims have faced persecution in Myanmar for decades. And yet no violence in their recent history has compared to that which the Myanmar military inflicted in August 2017. After militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacked police and army posts in northwestern Rakhine State on August 25, the military responded by killing thousands of Rohingya civilians, raping hundreds of Rohingya women and girls, and burning entire villages to the ground. In the course of a little more than three months, more than 700,000 Rohingya were forced to flee for their lives to Bangladesh. Myanmar authorities claimed they had conducted a “clearance operation” to rid the country of militants. In reality, they were fulfilling a long-standing dream of Myanmar’s Buddhist nationalists: the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims. 

The refugees joined hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who were already in Bangladesh seeking refuge after previous attacks, bringing the total to 1.2

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