A growing sense of desperation is fuelling a mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims from western Myanmar, with the number who have fled by boat since communal violence broke out two years ago now topping 100,000, a leading expert said Saturday.
Chris Lewa, director of the nonprofit advocacy group Arakan Project, said there has been a huge surge since Oct. 15, with an average of 900 people per day piling into cargo ships parked off Rakhine state. Lewa, who has teams monitoring embarkation points, is considered the leading authority on the number of fleeing Rohingya.
But boats are now shoving off from more and more places, she said, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of how many are leaving. “The real number may be higher,” Lewa said.
The suppression of the Rohingya community has been going on for decades. Since 1982, these people have been denied citizenship rights and have been considered illegal immigrants in their own homeland. Consequently, hatred, torture and killings have become a horrific daily reality for them.
Over the past two years, Buddhist mobs have reportedly killed hundreds of Rohingya Muslims.
The United Nations reported that the atrocities had also displaced almost 29,000 people, and labelled the Rohingya as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.
The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that the government has done nothing to stop the continuing atrocities and has, instead, unwittingly contributed to them.
At the same time, many in the mainstream media have been silent. The world community knows very little, if anything at all, about the situation.