Latest Highlight

Photo: Tsering Topgyal, AP
A Rohingya refugee woman, an ethnic persecuted Muslim minority fleeing Myanmar – a predominately Buddhist nation, sews inside her slum on the outskirts of New Delhi, India, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), there are around 9,000 Rohingya registered in the capital with thousands more unregistered ones living in different parts of the country. In Delhi, most of them lead impoverished lives in tented settlements dotted around the city.

In this photo by Tsering Topgyal, a Rohingya refugee sews inside her slum on the outskirts of New Delhi. According to the U.N. refugee agency, around 9,000 Rohingya refugees are registered in the capital and thousands more who are not registered live elsewhere in India. In New Delhi, most of them lead impoverished lives in tented settlements dotted around the city. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority numbering around 1.3 million in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which denies them citizenship and restricts their movement, and many thousands have tried to flee.

The 2nd European Rohingya Conference was held in Esbjerg, Denmark from August 1st to 2nd, 2015. 

By Hannah Beech
July 10, 2014

Sittwe, a drowsy town in western Burma, is a shattered place. I was first here five years ago, back when ethnic Rakhine Buddhists sold vegetables next to Muslim Rohingya fishermen. At the time, a Buddhist abbot and a Muslim cleric blessed me in whispers, as both spoke out against the repressive junta that had ruled Burma — also known as Myanmar — for nearly half a century. 

Today, Sittwe, like much of the surrounding state of Rakhine, exists in virtual apartheid. There are no Muslims at the market. Their mosques have been bulldozed, even though one state official in late 2012 told me with a smile that nothing had been destroyed, nothing at all. Did he think I could not see the rubble, with torn pages of children’s prayer books underfoot? Evicted from their homes, more than 140,000 Rohingya now live sequestered behind checkpoints. Diseases fester in these crude camps. In June a top U.N. aid official who traveled to Rakhine said she had never before “witnessed [such] a level of human suffering.” 

The U.N. estimates that 86,000 people, mainly Rohingya, have fled by boat in the two years since clashes erupted between the majority Buddhist and Muslim populations. In the 1980s, the all-Buddhist military junta stripped most Rohingya of their citizenship, claiming that they were recent immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. But many Rohingya have lived for generations in Burma. The country is now ruled by a quasi-civilian government praised by the West for its reforms. 

Its treatment of the Rohingya — as well as some other Muslim minorities — could be considered close to ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, as these stark photos by James Nachtwey show, conditions worsen in the Rohingya camps spread out across the salt flats of the Bay of Bengal. The Buddhist abbot in Sittwe, who so inspired me that I brought my children to meet him, speaks now not of the government’s failings but of his hatred of Muslim hordes. A town like Sarajevo, once of two faiths, has cleaved beyond belief. 

Hannah Beech is TIME’s China bureau chief and East Asia correspondent. 

James Nachtwey is a TIME contract photographer, documenting wars, conflicts and critical social issues. His last essay for the magazine documented Syrian refugees at Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. 

Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
More than 140,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have been forced to live in camps, where disease and despair have taken root.Abdul Kadir, 65, who has a severe stomach ailment and malnutrition, is cared for by his wife in one of the camps.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
Relatives weep at the funeral of a woman who died at 35 of a stomach disease; she left five children behind.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
A mourner weeps as she sits by an internee's coffin. The Rohingya lack medical care since most NGOs are now barred from the camps.
(Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME)
Two men are seen mourning at the funeral of a woman who died from stomach disease. 
(Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME)
Internees in one camp operate brick kilns to earn money. Adults are paid about $2 a day; children, half that amount.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
Thek Kay Pyin, 7, is among the Rohingya Muslims interned in Rakhine state, on the northwest coast of Burma. He is seen here working at a brick kiln where he earns $1 a day. 
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
Children working at a brick kiln where they earn $1 a day. 
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
Workers at a brick kiln are seen tossing bricks. 
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
At the camp, mourners are seen at a funeral for a 16-year-old girl who drank poison. 
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
Suffering in the camps continues unabated. 
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME 
Children learning the Quran at a madrassa in one of the camps 
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
A child suffering from malnutrition in one of the camps is held by it's mother.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME 
At a government-run hospital in Da Paing, a mother watches over her 45-year-old son Abdul Salam, who suffers from diabetes.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
A child suffering from stomach worms with her mother at a pharmacy waiting for treatment. The owner of the pharmacy is neither a doctor nor a pharmacist but does his best to help people. International NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders have been expelled from the camp by the government, leading to a soaring crisis in health care.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
Malnutrition among the camps' children is commonplace. In June a top U.N. aid official who traveled to Rakhine said she had never before “witnessed [such] a level of human suffering.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME 
Fishermen tend their nets before going out into the Bay of Bengal to fish, one of the main sources of food and livelihood for the Rohingya.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME 
A blind beggar on railway tracks between two IDP camps.
Photo: James Nachtwey for TIME
A boy using an umbrella as a sun shield jumps across a drainage canal behind a row of latrines at Baw Du Pha camp.

By BBC News
June 21, 2014

Photo: Phil Behan, UNHCR

Photographer Phil Behan says: "What immediately struck me was this woman’s age. Her name is Rasoul and at 75 years old she was forced to flee her home due to sectarian violence in Burma’s Rakhine State. After I took the photo of her, I thought to myself, 'How does someone of this age cope with such a situation?' Imagine, if you can, your own grandmother living such a fate, and then perhaps you can understand how hard displacement is."

(Photo: Saiful Haq Omi)

The UN says the Rohingya people, who live in western Burma, also known as Myanmar, are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Photographer Saiful Huq Omi says these "few words from [Rohingya refugee] John made me take a step back". "You just cross the river Naaf and there is my home by the riverside. From here it is just two miles, but for me it is like two million miles, a distance I will never be able to cross. My mother is there, my home is there. It is close for someone like you, those who have passports, and who can go anywhere they want."

A Rohingya Muslim man performs a dance before the start of a fight as part of a traditional wrestling festival at Kyaukpannu village in Maungdaw, northern Rakhine state June 6, 2014. Rohingya Muslim men and children took part in the festival in western Myanmar's Rakhine State, where the majority of an estimated 1.3 million stateless Muslim Rohingyas live in. Picture taken June 6.

(Photo: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun)

By Andre Malerba
Getty Images

SITTWE, BURMA - May 6, 2014: Some 150,000 Rohingya IDP (internally displaced people) are currently imprisoned in refugee camps outside of Sittwe in Rakhine State in Western Myanmar. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the primary supplier of medical care within the camps, was banned in March by the Myanmar government. Follow up attacks by Buddhist mobs on the homes of aid workers in Sittwe put an end to NGO operations in the camps. Though some NGOs are beginning to resume work, MSF remains banned, and little to no healthcare is being provided to most Rohingya IDPs. One Rohingya doctor is servicing 150,000 refugees with limited medication. Several Rakhine volunteer doctors sporadically enter the camps for two hours a day. Births are the most complicated procedures successfully carried out in the camps, requests to visit Yangon or Sittwe hospitals for life threatening situations require lengthy applications and are routinely denied. Malnutrition and diarrhea are the most widespread issues, but more serious diseases like tuberculosis are going untreated and could lead to the rise of drug resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB).

Rosheda, 20, holds her malnourished child, 2 months old, in front of her hut. She is too poor to afford enough food and the child will likely die without aid in Sittwe, Burma. (Photo: Andre Malerba/Getty Images)
Roshida Moud, 12, is held by his father as he explains that his son was hit in the head with a stone during the Rakhine violence in 2012. Roshida Moud has been unable to function by himself since the injury. (Photo: Andre Malerba/Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

By Stringer
Getty Images
April 17, 2014

Shamalapur, Bangladesh -- 45 year old Dilbhar looks towards the camera as she stands in the Shamalapur Rohingya refugee settlement on April 11, 2014 in Chittagong district, Bangladesh. She escaped to Bangladesh 6 months ago from the Bodchara village in the Mondu district of Myanmar. One day in November 2013 the authorities and Chakma people came in a mob to their village, killing people with machetes, burning houses, and opening fire on people at random. They went to the mosque and told people to stand in a line and opened fire on them. Dilbhar went to the hills and hid for 5 days with no food or water before escaping to Bangladesh with her husband and 3 children. Last week Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on Human Rights, said that recent developments in Myanmar's Rakhine state were the latest in a "long history of discrimination and persecution against the Rohingya Muslim community which could amount to crimes against humanity", and that the Myanmar government's decision not to allow Rohingya Muslims to register their ethnicity in the March census meant that the population tally was not in accordance with international standards. Over the years hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have taken refuge in Bangladesh to escape the deadly sectarian violence in Myanmar.

By Hereward Holland
April 14, 2014

Muslim Rohingya are excluded from political representation as a result of not being counted.

Myanmar's million-plus Muslim Rohingya population doesn't officially exist on government records. Branded "Bengali" and considered illegal immigrants, they've been living under systematic discrimination since sectarian violence erupted in 2012 in the coastal Rakhine state.

In the past six months, resentment of aid groups has been building among some Buddhists because of charities' perceived preferential treatment of the Rohingya, who make up the vast majority of those displaced by the recent unrest. Many aid groups that once provided life-giving support to the Rohingya's squalid camps have either been banned or forced to flee, their compounds ransacked by Buddhist mobs.

The mobs gathered after a UN-backed national census, the country's first in 30 years.

The headcount officially began on March 30, despite threats of violence and questions of ethnicity and religion that could re-ignite conflict in an already deeply fractured country.

Rights groups and think tanks advised the government to delay the census or remove questions concerning race and religion because of Myanmar's fragile stage in transition from dictatorship to "disciplined democracy".

The UK's Department for International Development donated £10 million ($16m) to the project.

Days before the count, Buddhist nationalists - roused by hard-line monks - threatened to boycott the census if the Rohingya registered their ethnicity.

In an attempt to keep the peace, the government barred Rohingya from taking part in the census unless they identified themselves as "Bengali".

The UN Population Fund said it was "deeply concerned about the departure from international census standards".

Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
Provoked by hard-line monks, many in the Buddhist community were angered that the government initially allowed Muslim Rohingya to register their ethnicity. The government later barred Rohingya from taking part unless they registered as "Bengali".
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
Ethnic Rohingya, who have lived in the region for centuries, are conspicuously absent from this museum display. Rohingya are also absent from the official list of 135 ethnicities on the country's census form.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
In the run up to the census, some hard-line Buddhists spread rumours that Muslims were attempting to convert Myanmar from a Buddhist country through migration and marriage to Buddhist women.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
A building owned by Malteser International, an emergency aid group, bears the scars of an attack by a Buddhist mob angered by the removal of a pro-Buddhist flag from their building. Local Buddhists saw this as disrespectful, compounding resentment over the agency's perceived preferential treatment of Rohingya following previous sectarian violence. Later, a mob wielding hammers marched around town smashing and looting more than two dozen compounds used by aid agencies.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
On April 1, around 200 census workers entered Te Chaung camp on the outskirts of Sittwe. The data collectors were flanked by police and backed up by two army battalions. The camp's overwhelming majority is ethnic Rohingya.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
Instead of asking the 41 questions of the census, workers asked just one: "What is your ethnicity?" If respondents answered: "Rohingya", the workers reportedly moved on without registering the family.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
A Rohingya woman watches as census workers walk past her home, refusing to allow her to participate. Participation is crucial, as ministerial positions in local parliaments are allocated corresponding to proportional representation of registered ethnic groups.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
Rohingya children look out from their hut as census workers pass. They won't be counted, after pressure on the government from Buddhist nationalists - who see the Rohingya's census participation as the "thin edge of the wedge" towards citizenship, even though officials deny the count would be used for that purpose.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
A Kaman Muslim man living in the Te Chaung displacement camp poses with a card showing he participated in the census. Despite being Muslim, the Kaman is one of the 135 officially recognised ethnicities.
Photo: Hez Holland/Al Jazeera
A census worker practices filling out the pink census form at a training session. The United Nations Population Fund and the national government say the headcount will help allocate the nation's budget and resources.

Rohingya Exodus