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The crisis in Myanmar: How the Rohingya Muslims became the world’s ‘most persecuted’ minority

In the last two weeks, more than 120,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh. A recent resurgence in violence has forced hundreds of thousands of families to abandon their homes, while 400,000 people are still trapped in conflict zones in western parts of the country.

Recent reports show whole villages being burned to the ground. Men, women and children are being murdered with impunity. Families are terrified for their lives. The official death toll is estimated to stand at 400 people, though activists believe it to already be greater than 1,000 and this number will surely rise in the coming days and weeks.

The history of the Rohingya Muslims

Aid agencies have long described the Muslim population in Myanmar (formerly Burma) as the ‘most persecuted minority in the world’ due to the discrimination they face at the hands of government officials and the military. 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims currently live in Myanmar and are confined to the north west Rakhine State.

They are not permitted to hold Burmese citizenship, despite having roots in Myanmar since the Eighth Century, and are denied basic human rights, such as the right to work, receive state education and move freely around the country.

Myanmar is a majority Buddhist country and the Rohingya Muslims are a religious minority, bordered by Muslim-majority Bangladesh. However, neither country will offer them citizenship, making the Rohingya a stateless people, routinely victimised and discriminated against by government policy.

The current situation in Myanmar

According to the United Nations, a humanitarian crisis is on the horizon for Myanmar, as thousands of people are arriving daily into camps on the Bangladeshi border. Resources in these border camps are already stretched to the limit and basic necessities like food, water and shelter are in very short supply.

It’s highly likely that disease and sickness will quickly spread unless camps are properly equipped with clean water and sanitation facilities. In cramped conditions where human waste and other refuse is not being correctly disposed of, the ideal environment is created for diseases like cholera.

UN aid agencies continue to face roadblocks when attempting to deliver vital aid and there have been reports of looting in warehouses where emergencies supplies are kept. Humanitarian access has been limited in Myanmar since 2011, particularly in remote areas, and this new crisis will only bring more suffering and misery to the Rohingya Muslims.

What can I do to help?

Human Appeal is well-placed in Myanmar and Bangladesh to help families fleeing to the border camps, but we can’t do anything without your support. Hundreds of thousands of people are making desperate prayers for help. In their hour of need, it is our duty to alleviate their suffering.

A food parcel that will last a hungry family a whole month costs just £65. An emergency parcel containing clean water, food and basic medical supplies costs just £100. Your donations could mean the difference between life and death for a family who has lost everything.

You can save a precious life today.

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