The Rohingya People and the Struggles They Are Facing

By: Anjali Patel
It is no surprise to hear that there are currently millions of refugees who exist in the world today. These refugees come from several countries including Syria, South Sudan, and Venezuela. One of the first steps of approaching the refugee crisis is to understand who these people are and where their needs lie. Refugees are diverse. Thus, some may have resided in rural areas while some may have lived in urban areas. Some may have lived by certain cultural norms while others may have practiced other traditions. Understanding the demographics of the tremendous refugee population can help outline the types of policies and needs that need to be addressed.. One ethnic group that make up a portion of the world’s refugees are called “The Rohingya”.  The Rohingya people of Myanmar have endured a brutal history, as BBC News writes, “They have been described as the world's most persecuted people.”
BBC News also goes on to write “The Rohingya are one of Myanmar's many ethnic minorities and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.” However, they are still not treated as citizens of the nation. Rakhine is a state in Myanmar that is located on the west coast of the country and home to many Rohingya. Unfortunately, many Rohingya are unable to peacefully reside in the state because the government does not recognize them as citizens. The Rohingya have also faced religious and racial discrimination in Myanmar that has led to the persecution of many. Under these circumstances, many Rohingya have been left with very few options in terms of what to do and where to go. As a result, many have left Myanmar in search of somewhere else they can settle, ideally without the fear of persecution. In addition to these poor circumstances, it is crucial to note how some of the largest victims are the children. Perceived as vulnerable and powerless, children are often forced to act as soldiers and risk their lives, according to Radio Free Asia.
The Rohingya have consistently tried to inhabit the space they need in countries that will allow them asylum. Amnesty International reports that nations such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia have denied entry to Rohingya refugees. The Rohingya are stuck in a massive dilemma as some of their neighboring countries are unwilling to help and perceive their presence as undesired. Amnesty International also goes on to write, “Those who reach countries like Malaysia are still not guaranteed safety. They often end up in crowded detention centres with no timeline for release, and have little access to proper healthcare, food, or clean drinking water.” Many Rohingya refugees have even ended up in India. While India Todaydiscusses the possible deportation of many of these refugees, the article also explains the pressures India has been facing to keep the refugees due to the little to no options the Rohingya have as well as the extent to which they are facing prejudice especially throughout south and east Asia.
Maya Abdel-Megid is a rising high school senior and is the founder of an organization called Engage in Change. Her organization is currently focusing on raising awareness about the Rohingya people and providing others more insight into the political situation of Myanmar and how it isaffecting Rohingya refugees. By taking some time to read through her blog and sharing it, you can give attention to an important issue, as many US citizens seem to be unaware of who the Rohingya people even are. By doing so, you will also be helping Engage in Change’s mission to ensure that the UN continues to lay emphasis on helping the Rohingya and ultimately solving their plight.
Altogether, before anyone can push for any policies regarding the Rohingya, one must educate themselves more on who the Rohingya are, their customs, beliefs, lifestyles, and history. One must also educate themselves on the complexity of what is going on in Myanmar and its surrounding countries. Understanding the complex nature of the situation can lead to more effective advocacy. Engage in Change can provide more details and information on these subjects.



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