Shocking images of the world’s most forsaken people starving to death

May 10, 2014 12:22 pm Comments Off on Shocking images of the world’s most forsaken people starving to death Views: 236

WARNING: Some images in this gallery may be disturbing because of their graphic nature.

The Rohingya may be the most well-known forgotten people on earth. The minority Muslim community living along Burma’s western border has been discriminated against for decades by the central Burmese state. Their plight is well-documented, but that has changed few of the grim facts on the ground. These pictures, provided by Reuters, come from a number of camps for the internally displaced in Burma’s western Arakan state, also known as Rakhine, that are home now to tens of thousands of Rohingya who fled recent rounds of ethnic mob violence.

Displaced Rohingya woman Norbagoun carries her severely malnourished 25-day-old twins in her lap in their house at the Dar Paing camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 24, 2014. Restrictions on international aid have exacerbated a growing health crisis among stateless Muslim Rohingya in west Myanmar. In February, Myanmar's government expelled the main aid group providing health to more than half a million Rohingya, Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF-H), after the organisation said it had treated people believed to have been victims of violence in southern Maungdaw township in January. The United Nations says at least 40 Rohingya were killed there by Buddhist Rakhine villagers. The government denies any killings occurred. An attack in March on NGO and U.N. offices by a Rakhine mob led to the withdrawal of other groups providing healthcare and other essential aid to another 140,000 Rohingya living in camps. Picture taken April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Minzayar (MYANMAR - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)    ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 07 OF 24 FOR PACKAGE

A displaced Rohingya woman, Norbagoun, holds her severely malnourished twins in their shelter at the Dar Paing camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, on April 24. (Reuters/Minzayar )

The images show the deplorable living conditions there, made far worse after the forced removal of foreign NGO aid workers, some of whom were expelled by Burmese authorities in February. Hunger and malnutrition stalk the camps, leaving infant children most vulnerable. According to one aid worker whom Reuters cites in the Kyein Ni Pin camp, six infants have died there in the weeks since doctors from Medecins Sans Frontieres were ordered out of the country.

Severely malnourished 25-day-old twins are held by her mother Norbagoun, a displaced Rohingya woman, in their house at the Dar Paing camp for internally displaced people in Sittwe, Rakhine state, April 24, 2014. Restrictions on international aid have exacerbated a growing health crisis among stateless Muslim Rohingya in west Myanmar. In February, Myanmar's government expelled the main aid group providing health to more than half a million Rohingya, Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF-H), after the organisation said it had treated people believed to have been victims of violence in southern Maungdaw township in January. The United Nations says at least 40 Rohingya were killed there by Buddhist Rakhine villagers. The government denies any killings occurred. An attack in March on NGO and U.N. offices by a Rakhine mob led to the withdrawal of other groups providing healthcare and other essential aid to another 140,000 Rohingya living in camps. Picture taken April 24, 2014. REUTERS/Minzayar (MYANMAR - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)    ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 09 OF 24 FOR PACKAGE

Norbagoun’s babies are less than a month old.  (Reuters/Minzayar)

The Rohingya are looked upon by many other Burmese as Bengali interlopers illegally living in a foreign land; most Rohingya are denied Burmese citizenship. But the vast majority of the roughly 1.3 million people considered Rohingya who live in Burma have called Arakan state home for generations. Tomás Ojea Quintana, a U.N. special rapporteur, surveyed the situation earlier this month in the wake of the withdrawal of aid workers. He documented food shortages and the lack of access to water and to adequate medical care. The conditions, he said, were part of a “long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya Muslim community, which could amount to crimes against humanity.”

Rohingya children walk past shelters inside the Kyein Ni Pyin camp for internally displaced people in Pauk Taw, Rakhine state, April 23, 2014. Restrictions on international aid have exacerbated a growing health crisis among stateless Muslim Rohingya in west Myanmar. In February, Myanmar's government expelled the main aid group providing health to more than half a million Rohingya, Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF-H), after the organisation said it had treated people believed to have been victims of violence in southern Maungdaw township in January. The United Nations says at least 40 Rohingya were killed there by Buddhist Rakhine villagers. The government denies any killings occurred. An attack in March on NGO and U.N. offices by a Rakhine mob led to the withdrawal of other groups providing healthcare and other essential aid to another 140,000 Rohingya living in camps. Picture taken April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Minzayar (MYANMAR - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY HEALTH)    ATTENTION EDITORS: PICTURE 23 OF 24 FOR PACKAGE

Rohingya children walk past shelters inside the Kyein Ni Pyin camp for internally displaced people in Pauk Taw, Rakhine state, on April 23. (Reuters/Minzayar)

Sectarian and ethnic strife have shadowed Burma’s slow transition to democracy after years of brutal military dictatorship. A strident Buddhist nationalism, fueled by some particularly radical characters, is in part to blame. In March of 2013, Buddhist mobs reportedly targeted Muslim neighborhoods — Muslims who were not ethnic Rohingya — in the central Burmese town of Meikhtila after a local dispute at a gold shop. At least 43 people were killed in what some described as a fiery pogrom, the worst single incident in a wave of violence that has led to more than 300 deaths and prompted at least 140,000 to flee their homes in recent years.

Some have been dismayed by the relative silence of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Nobel laureate, a champion of democracy and now the lead opposition figure in parliament. Meanwhile, the Rohingya suffer in the margins, not totally forgotten, but largely devoid of help and hope.

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