As Rohingyas flee Myanmar as refugees and enter Bangladesh, the latter is rushing to try and accommodate the influx of 400,000 refugees. The government has said it is planning to build an enormous camp in the next ten days to temporarily house the newcomers.
The camp will be built in an area along the border with Myanmar known as Cox’s Bazar, an area popular for fishing and tourism.
The Rohingya are Muslims fleeing a long history of persecution in Buddhist Myanmar. Even before the latest surge, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were in Bangladesh as refugees. The recent unrest began on August 25th when Rohingya militants attacked Myanmar police.
Myanmar was ruled by the military until recently, who led a long campaign against the Rohingya, considering them non-citizens and victimizing the group through an apartheid-like system. The Rohingyas are ethnically Bengali and are considered illegal immigrants by Burmese authorities, contrary to evidence that they have been in the Burmese state of Rhakhine for quite some time.
ARSA, or the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, was formed as an insurgent group using violence to achieve the aim of a democratic Rohingya state within Myanmar. Their activities, including the August 25th attack, have led to a government crackdown on all the Rohingya that has bordered on genocide at times – torching villages and engaging in gang rape and extra-judicial executions.
While many Rohingyas flee their circumstances in Myanmar, Bagladesh has said that they will place restrictions on those coming into the country that will include barring them from leaving the camps or traveling within the country.
“We want peace; we want good relations with our neighboring countries,” said Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She recently visited the existing camps and hugged some of the Rohingya there.