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WHEN: September 10-September 29
WHERE: Bangladesh (Dhaka and Cox's Bazar Districts); Burma (Yangon Region and Rakhine State)
RI TEAM: Sarnata Reynolds, Statelessness Program Manager; Melanie Teff, Senior Advocate & European Representative
In June of this year, what began as inter-communal violence between the Rakhine and Rohingya communities in Burma's Rakhine State evolved into large-scale, state-sponsored violence against the stateless Rohingya. On June 10, a state of emergency was declared, after which the Burmese military became involved in acts of violence and other human rights abuses against the Rohingya, including killings and the widespread arrests of male Rohingya. Ten humanitarian workers who were assisting IDPs were also detained. Since that time, tens of thousands of people have fled their homes, including members of both the Rohingya and Rakhine communities.
Neighboring Bangladesh has closed its border to fleeing Rohingya and has ordered humanitarian groups not to assist new arrivals or the roughly 200,000 Rohingya who were already living in the country as unregistered refugees. Many are also worried that the roughly 70,000 Rohingya IDPs in Burma will not be allowed to return to their homes. Of particular concern is a situation of forced segregation and protracted displacement that is developing in the state capital, Sittwe, where Rohingya who lost their homes in the violence have been moved into camps. All Rohingya, displaced or otherwise, are subject to movement restrictions which prevent them from accessing their livelihoods.
Over the course of the mission, RI's team traveled to Bangladesh and met Rohingya refugees from northern Rakhine State, who reported being entirely cut off from humanitarian assistance since June. They also visited camps for displaced Rohingya and Rakhine inside Burma, where access has been heavily restricted in recent months.
The team's interviews with displaced families, civil society, and humanitarian organizations, uncovered a number of areas of concern, including the following: