By: Taylor Kim, Rachael Garcia, Lauren Glass (Contributors)
The Rohingya refugee crisis is a modern day ethnic cleansing silently wiping out an entire culture of people. The Rohingya people are a minority ethnic group in Myanmar, and the majority of them are Muslim representing the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar.
Primarily a Buddhist country, Myanmar refuses to recognize the Rohingya people as citizens of Myanmar, instead accusing them of being illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Thus, the Myanmar military invades predominantly Rohingya villages, burning them to the ground.
According to a health organization called Medecins Sans Frontieres, at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed in 2017. Thousands more were forced to flee their homes and their belongings to travel across the border to Bangladesh or another neighboring country. Many families were separated and many of the Rohingya women were targets for sexual violence by Myanmar soldiers and gangs.
Some Rohingyas left Myanmar and boarded boats to reach other countries that could take them in, but many countries were reluctant to house thousands of new migrants, leaving them stranded at sea. Many others traveled by land, walking hundreds of miles to escape the country.
Despite the arduous travel to safety, the Rohingya people face life-threatening challenges at temporary refugee camps. These camps are often without clean water, sufficient food, medicine, or doctors and many have no electricity.
Health and Education For All, a non-profit private organization started by US-based physicians, researchers and community leaders, has created a program called Health on Wheels.
The program has set up medical camps in Bangladesh to give medical care to Rohingya refugees. Health on Wheels provides free medical care to hundreds of Rohingya refugees who suffer from life-threatening conditions like cut injuries, bullet injuries, infectious disease, hypertension, diabetes, high-risk pregnancies, and malnutrition.
Health and Education for All are asking for donations in order to provide basic medical care for the Rohingyas. Many of these refugees have preexisting health conditions like diabetes that require medical care, and many also have not received basic vaccinations, making them more susceptible to certain diseases.
This humanitarian crisis has been happening silently, thousands have suffered through horrendous tragedies, and yet many people in the world are unaware of the thousands left without a home or place to go. Refugees can’t return home to Myanmar because the country won’t recognize them as citizens and has denied them equal rights for many years.
The Sharon High School National Honors Society is raising awareness for this crisis at an info session on Thursday night May 2, 2019, at 7:30 pm. They are accepting donations for the cause and will also be selling food like pizza!