Painful Images Of Rohingya Refugees Who Have Fled Ethnic Cleansing

In a Post-World War II world, the vast majority of people became aware of the atrocities that took place during the Holocaust and vowed: “never again.” And yet today many people are still facing similar straits. This is what is currently taking place in Myanmar as the government attempts to ethnically cleanse the country of the Rohingya Muslim people.

Father and Son


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

Although those in charge in the Buddhist majority country of Myanmar have long been known to oppress and use violence against the Rohingya people, who are predominately Muslim, it has greatly increased since mid-2017. According to various aid organizations, since August of 2017 around 615,000 people have fled the oppression into the neighboring country of Bangladesh. As is often the case with refugees they have been plagued with murder, rape, and destruction. This photograph depicts a Rohingya Muslim boy being held by his father as they arrive in Shah Porir Dwip, near Bangladesh, in October of 2017.

Children Searching For Safety


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

As hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled Myanmar in search of safety, the most affected by the situation are children, as is often the case. Families have escaped horrific conditions only to be thrust into more horrific conditions with no food, water or shelter and are largely dependent on the help of aid organizations. In this photograph, refugee children are seen standing on a road being built in the Balukhali refugee camp located near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. More and more refugees have continued to flee the violence that is taking place during the brutal crackdown and thousands more refugees are said to continue to attempt the perilous journey.

Refugees Finding Their Way


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

The United Nations has referred to the ongoing situation as a “textbook ethnic cleansing.” Authorities within Myanmar are using what they refer to as “clearance operation” to remove the Rohingya Muslim people. During these operations villages are burned, women are raped, and people are murdered. Interestingly, Buddhist mobs, which have been largely considered to be a religion of peace, have a role in the operations. Hundreds of people have been murdered thus far with additional people dying while attempting to flee. Here a Rohingya refugee holds a child while waiting for food.

Refugee Children


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

Despite fleeing atrocities in the country they called home, refugees are facing other kinds of horrors in camps. The makeshift camps are largely unregulated, and many issues now plague the people including diseases like cholera. Many are suffering from malnutrition, which is particularly bad for the Rohingya children. While aid organizations are attempting to help mitigate the situation, it has been difficult for them to keep up with the massive amount of people coming into the camps. The refugees are largely made up of children at an estimated 60 percent. In this photo, Rohingya refugee children wait for a hotel mean after arriving to the camp in October 2017.

Refugee Camp


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

This is the Rohingya refugee camp called Balukhali, located near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has been commended by various aid and humanitarian organizations who say the acceptance of the people has undoubtedly saved lives. However, the aid organizations have also pushed for the creation of a “safe zone” to where refugees can return. These organizations also say that safe zone must be internationally recognized in order to provide protection for the people, as they have long faced oppression and violence from authorities in the largely Buddhist majority country of Myanmar.

Fleeing Through The River


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

An estimated sixty percent of the refugees arriving in Bangladesh are children and a large amount of them arriving alone. Leaders around the world, including in the United States, are still trying to figure out how to face the situation and deal with the leader of Myanmar – Aung San Suu Kyi. Kyi has previously been a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has been largely democratic in his ideals. However, he has currently been unable to stop the country’s army from the vicious assault on the Rohingya people. In this photo, refugees cross over a canal in the Naf River as they attempt to flee from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

The Cost Of War


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

As Rohingya Refugees attempt to flee into safety, some turn to paying smugglers to take through the water. However, the travel is dangerous and they are often piled onto makeshift wooden boats which are extremely unsafe. This has led to further deaths as the boats have been known to capsize. In this photo, a woman is seen cleaning the body of a young little boy who was killed after a boat capsized. Dozens more, including many children, were also killed in the boat. Many have sent their children alone in the hopes they will have a chance at a better life but survival in not guaranteed.

Whatever It Takes


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

In this photo, Rohingya refugees are seen arriving at Shah Porir Dwip in Bangladesh. Although the country of Myanmar has denied that they are purposely attacking Rohingya Muslims, the people tell a different story. Myanmar authorities claim that they are fighting a terrorist insurgency which has resulted in the deaths. However, various other world leaders including United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and British Prime Minister Theresa May have said that the Myanmar military seems to be engaging in ethnic cleansing.

Waiting For Aid


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

After Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged that it appeared as though ethnic cleansing was occurring Myanmar, state officials also suggested that the administration was considering if they could take other steps to mitigate the situation. A senior State Department official said, “The term ‘ethnic cleansing’ is not defined in the context of either international law or domestic law. However, it is a descriptive term, and it carries with it this sense of urgency.” The state official said a possible outcome that could be taken by the United States government could include targeted sanctions. In this photo, a refugee boy waits to get food from a local aid organization.

Trying To Survive


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

In December 2017, Pope Francis made a trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Pope has previously called for an official investigation into the crisis. He also seemed to recognize that there are in fact atrocities going and said those who are responsible for the atrocities must be held accountable for their actions. In this photo, refugees walk a makeshift bamboo bridge at the Kutupalong refugee camp. The Pope gave a historic mass in the largely Buddhist country and said, “I know that many in Myanmar bear the wounds of violence, wounds both visible and invisible…We think that healing can come from anger and revenge. Yet the way of revenge is not the way of Jesus.”

A Confrontation


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

CNN released an exclusive report in November where they interviewed refugees about the atrocities they encountered while attempting to reach safety at the refugees’ camps in Bangladesh. One Rohingya woman named Mumtaz said, “They killed and killed and piled the bodies up high. It was like cut bamboo. In the pile there was someone’s neck, someone’s head, someone’s leg. I was able to come out, I don’t know how.” In this photo, Rohingya refugees attempt to cross the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh in order to flee the violence, they are confronted with a Bangladeshi border guard.

The Weight Of Violence


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

As is very common in high conflict areas, as people flee oppression and violence they are often faced with other struggles. So often these include the issues of disease and malnutrition. Although humanitarian and aid organizations are attempting to minimize suffering, children are still disproportionately affected. In this photo, a very young Rohingya Muslim boy cries as he is weighed by an NGO (non-governmental organization) called Action Against Hunger. As the refugees are continuing to pour in fleeing from harm, undoubtedly more people and children will face similar issues.

The Exhaustion Of Survival


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

In November, after seemingly months of waiting, the United Secretary of State Rex Tillerson finally issued a statement acknowledging the ongoing humanitarian crisis after visiting the Myanmar area. He said, “What we know occurred in Rakhine state … has a number of characteristics of crimes against humanity. Whether it meets all the criteria of ethnic cleansing we continue to determine ourselves.” He further stated, “No provocation can justify the horrendous atrocities that have ensued.” This photo depicts an exhausted Rohingya refugee woman as she is helped from a boat arriving on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River.



Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

United States Secretary of State was also a marked change from his previous ambiguous statements, and it was clear that the U.S. was now recognizing the atrocities occurring in Myanmar. Secretary Tillerson said, “These abuses by some among the Burmese military, security forces, and local vigilantes have caused tremendous suffering. … After a careful and thorough analysis of available facts, it is clear that the situation in northern Rakhine state constitutes ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya.” This photo shows Rohingya refugees begging for food being distributed by a local NGO at the Balukali refugee camp in September 2017.

Praying For The Best


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

This photo that best demonstrates the resiliency of the people as the Rohingya Muslim refugees pray at the Balukali refugee camp in an area where they are attempting to build a mosque. Interestingly, despite Buddhism being largely a religion of peace, Buddhist groups are the ones said to be attacking and oppressing groups of Rohingya Muslim people. Although, it is decidedly more of an ethnic issue than a religious one it is clear the Rohingya people are still clinging to the Muslim faith. They have also received support from other religions around the world including Pope Francis, however, some have criticized the Pope’s statements as not being strong enough.

Pleading For Help


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

The United States is not alone in its description of the ongoing atrocities taking place in Myanmar. Previously, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a similar opinion alongside Muslim leaders from around the world. U.N. envoy Nikki Haley also gave a similar statement where she told the Security Council that the situation was “a brutal, sustained campaign to cleanse the country of an ethnic minority.” In this photo, a crying young Rohingya refugee boy attempts to climb on a local NGO truck at the Balukali refugee camp. His desperation and cries are palpable through the photo.

The Innocence Of Conflict


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

Children are always the ones who suffer the most in high-conflict areas and the Rohingya Muslim people are no different. In this photo, refugee children line up to get food at the Palongkhali refugee camp in Bangladesh. The food is being distributed by a Turkish Aid organization called TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency). TIKA has been active since 1992 and currently works in five different continents. The organization is also currently providing aid in Yemen and Ethiopia. TIKA offers support on behalf of the country of Turkey saying, “By reaching out to all over the world, we, as Turkey, will give a helping hand as much as we can to whoever in need of assistance.”

Collapse Of Strength


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

An apparent issue faced by the United States when deciding whether or not to place sanctions on Myanmar is the fear that the country will move closer to China rather than the United States. However, the desperation of the people is at an all-time high and is likely going to get worse according to aid workers monitoring the situation. In this photo, a Rohingya Muslim woman is carried and aided by other fellow refugees after she collapsed while attempting to cross the border through the Naf River near Anjuman Para.

The Camp


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

As the Rohingya Muslim refugee camps continue to spread in Bangladesh, the ethnic cleansing is apparently able to be seen from space. Here the Kutupalong camp is seen in October 2017. According to Planet, a satellite imaging company, the Kutupalong camp has grown exponentially within the short period of time between September 21, 2017 and November 10, 2017. Previously you were able to see trees and other vegetation, but that has been replaced by makeshift structures. Farfour of Planet says that the satellite images confirm the mass exodus from Myanmar. He further said it suggests that “the situation in Myanmar for the people fleeing is likely desperate and widespread to cause so many people to leave so quickly.”

Baby Ibrahim


Kevin Frayer/Rohingya Refugees/Getty Images

The most striking images seen in conflict are always of the children. It is difficult to imagine that such innocence could exist in a place of mass suffering, and yet it is the reality for so many people around the world, including this baby. This photo shows Rohingya Muslim refugee Hamida Khatun. Hamida is feeding her one year old son named Ibrahim. The NGO Action Against Hunger works with parents like these in order to attempt to save their children from starvation and malnutrition. Here Hamida is seen feeding Ibrahim a high calorie peanut paste. The mother and child are currently located at the Kutupalong refugee camp located in Bangladesh.