From the Executive Director
The Rohingya need to have a long-term solution and permanent settlement plan.
Stories about Rohingya people are usually very heavy. They were persecuted in Myanmar, being trapped, stranded in Bangladesh, trafficked to Malaysia and other counties, and became illegal immigrants. Myanmar deprived the Rohingya of citizenship status 40 years ago. They were not recognised as citizens by any country, and all civil rights were taken away, including almost every fundamental daily activity like education, healthcare, employment, housing, and even marriage, and freedom to travel. Living under these restrictions makes it impossible to imagine how vulnerable their situation can be.
Over 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, since the most recent Myanmar military violence to Rohingya in Rakhine State five years ago. Even though the world understands more about their difficulties in the past 5 years, the Rohingya population in Bangladesh refugee camps, Rakhine State and other parts of Myanmar still face precarious situations. For instant in middle of this month, one or more boat(s) carrying some 160 refugees, most likely Rohingya people, had been floating at sea near Malaysian waters for days. Some people on board have reportedly died due to lack of food or water. Trying to find a glimmer of hope in their lives, many of the Rohingya made deadly journeys to flee violence in Myanmar and the increasingly unsafe and difficult living conditions in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
From this issue of Borderline, I hope you can understand there is a group of people waiting to return to their homes and regain their statuses. Each and everyone of them is just like the ones on our cover: they are living humans with flesh and blood and have their names and stories. Despite the many years of unfair treatment, we still see a glimmer of hope in their eyes. The international must strengthen and cooperate in fighting for the legal status of this vulnerable group. The Rohingya need to have a long-term solution and permanent settlement plan. I sincerely hope you can join us to support them for getting back their basic human rights.
Jenny Tung Executive Director, MSF Hong Kong