Without citizenship, Rohingya remain vulnerable to disasters in Myanmar: Rights activist

Without citizenship, Rohingya remain vulnerable to disasters in Myanmar: Rights activist

No help reached Rohingya living in camps after Cyclone Mocha killed over 400 people, says co-founder of Free Rohingya Coalition

By Halil Ibrahim Medet

ISTANBUL (AA) – Rohingya in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state could not reach humanitarian aid and safe places after the deadliest Cyclone Mocha as their citizenship rights were revoked in 1982, said a human rights activist.

Nay San Lwin, a rights activist and co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, told Anadolu that over 30,000 refugees were affected by the disaster in Myanmar, and countless Rohingya are still missing.

The UN described Rohingya as the "most persecuted minority in the world” after the cyclone left over 400 people dead and huge destruction.

“Without citizenship in Myanmar, people are akin to paralyzed patients. The Rohingya in Myanmar will never have the same opportunities as other ethnic groups in Myanmar due to their lack of citizenship. The military has been attempting to eradicate Myanmar's Rohingya population, resulting in over a million Rohingya refugees seeking shelter in Bangladesh,” Lwin said.

“The junta does not intend to restore Rohingya's citizenship or provide basic human rights," he added.

Stressing that they still cannot reach the areas where they can find their basic needs, he said they are waiting for humanitarian aid, unsure of when it will arrive.

Claiming that the military administration deliberately caused casualties during the disaster, he said had they allowed the evacuation of Rohingya days before the hurricane, fewer people would have died.

The Myanmar military administration ordered the Rohingya to evacuate the camps just a few hours before the hurricane without providing any means of transportation or a safer place, he added.

“All refugee camps are 90% destroyed. Hundreds of Rohingya have been killed, and many are missing. The challenges are enormous. They require urgent humanitarian assistance, but the Myanmar military junta is not allowing international organizations to access the affected areas,” Lwin said.

Noting that all Rohingya living in Rakhine’s capital Sittwe were affected by the hurricane, he said they have been confined to camps since 2012.

"The camps resemble concentration camps, as the Rohingya are not allowed to leave," he said, adding that they have been in camps for 11 years.

"However, the junta will not show any sympathy. They will not be allowed to return to their original places they were forced to leave in 2012. Instead, they will be relocated back to the camps," he added.

Urged the international community to act, he said: “Your support should be directed towards helping the people of Myanmar, including the Rohingya, dismantling the military dictatorship and bringing about a systemic change,” he added.

In 2017, a mass exodus of Rohingya people was provoked by the Myanmar military's brutal crackdown on the Muslim minority in the country’s northern region.

Since then, approximately 1.2 million Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh, living in precarious situations at the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox Bazaar.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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