The plight of the Rohingya, the drifting invisible community

Thousands of Rohingya are lost at sea. The media remains silent on a tragedy that recalls that of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.

The tragedy of people fleeing their lands in order to survive, have a future, and hope for a better life doesn’t involve only the Mediterranean Sea. On the other side of the world there are the Rohingya people, which are officially recognised by the United Nations as the world’s most persecuted and segregated population. The Rohingya live in the Rakhine State, Burma (Myanmar), but there they are undesired. They are not officially recognised by the governing military junta, and they are disliked – almost persecuted – by the local population, in the majority Buddhists.




The journey of hope in the Bay of Bengal

The Rohingya are living such a condition that led them to decide to board smugglers’ boats to flee Burma in order to reach Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 8,000 people are believed to be stuck on boats in the Bay of Bengala and in the Adaman Sea, according to the non-governmental organisation Arkan Project (Arkan is the traditional name of lands inhabited by Rohingya).

Malaysian authorities said that 1,018 Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants had arrived over the last few days, and some 1,000 people had landed on northern shores of Sumatra, Indonesia, between Sunday and Monday.




Facts and figures that recall those of the Mediterranean

Ulet Ifansasti shot the photographs of this article on 12 May in Lhoksukon, in the province of Aceh, after the landing of 500 Rohingya refugees. The pictures show the tragedy of the Rohingya people from the inside. The refugees warned officials that thousands of people are still lost at sea.




Unlike in the Mediterranean Sea, local governments shift the blame on each other, and in many cases boats have to continue their journey in order to reach less controlled shores. In the first 4 months of 2015, 25,000 migrants left Bangladeshi and Burmese coasts on boat, which means they doubled compared to the same period of the last year, according to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The figures are very similar to those registered in the shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

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