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Rohingya refugees – a woman’s perspective

A group of young Rohingya girls fill their jars with water from one of the few water pumps available to the IDPs living in Rabba Garden IDP camp. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
I travelled to Sittwe in the beginning of July 2013, with the intention of documenting the situation of the internally displaced Rohingya community. When I arrived at the IDP camps, I was struck by the overwhelmingly high number of women and children in comparison to men. Bearing in mind that conflict affects the life of women in a fundmentally different way, I decided to focus on how the Arakanese-Rohingya conflict had affected the livelihoods and role of women within their community. Their stories of humiliation, rape and loss where unbearably hard to listen to, but their strength of character and resilience in face of despair revealed an unparalleled degree of humanity.
 
Aamina, 54, from Thandawly, arrived at Takebyin unregistered IDP camp in the outskirts of Sittwe 5 months ago. ‘I saw how Arakan killed my son and burned my village. Protecting our children is the most important task. I wish that our children can go to school and learn, so that they can fight the prejudice against Rohingya and have a better future. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
 
Zara Hadu, 50, from Thandawly Villlage, has lost the ability to walk after breaking her leg and hip when trying to flee from the ethno-sectarian violence of October. She has no shelter and must shift tents every few hours where there is space for her. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
The inside of a make-shift tent at Takebyin unregistered IDP camp. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
 
Zohra Bahar, 24, from Aung Mingalar. Zohra sold the little valuables she had left to bribe the local authorities to allow her to reunite with her youngest child, whom she holds in her arms. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
 
Rabiyah Hatu, 46, from Thandawly, now lives in Takeybin unregistered IDP camp. ‘I do not speak of the grief because I understand the need to give our children hope that this endless punishment will one day be over.’ Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
 
Mehjabeen, 62, from Thandawly, prays surrounded by children. She has become a respected elder in the community of Takeybin unregistered IDP camp where she now lives in the outskirts of Sittwe. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.
 

Sadiyah, 5, from Boomay, near Sittwe, holds broken pages of the Qu’ran as she walks home from a make-shift Madrasa set up in Thawepen unregistered IDP Camp, in the outskirts of Sittwe. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.

Noor Haba, 18, from Boomay, near Sittwe, was separated from her husband during the violence outbreak of October 2012. She arrived at Rabba Garden IDP camp 5 months ago with her son who is now one year old and suffers from a congenital disorder. She is 6 months pregnant with her second child. Rakhine State, Burma/Myanmar, July 2013.