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In Pictures: The plight of the Rohingya

Many Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar are still displaced after ethnic clashes drove them from their homes.

Andrew Stanbridge
January  20,  2014 

Sittwe, Myanmar – A year and a half ago, an outbreak of violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims here in Sittwe, Myanmar, started a struggle that drove nearly 150,000 Rohingya from their homes and into hastily put-together camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Violent attacks continue to occur across Rakhine state, forcing more and more Rohingya into areas of refuge.

Conditions inside the dusty camps are sparse. Those lucky enough to have been allocated official aid buildings live with 10 families in each long house. Those that are still waiting to be assigned space from the government are left to create makeshift shelters out of whatever they can salvage, whether it be empty food bags or dried rice stalks.

Temperatures can vary drastically, from searing daytime heat to cold nights and monsoon rains.
Access to clean water and food is limited and, although toilets facilities were some of the first things to be built, raw sewage still runs through open waterways.

There are frequent disagreements between the police, largely members of the Burmese ethnic majority, and the Rohingya IDPs. These confrontations sometimes turn violent and are often only quelled when the army intervenes. 

 Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera

One of the first and largest IDP camps outside of Sittwe, Myanmar, where the first wave of Rohingyans fled when Buddhist mobs began to attack their villages, burning homes to the ground.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 
A woman crosses a stream between two encampments of displaced Rohingya.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 
A displaced Rohingya family eats a meal inside of their shelter. Rations given by aid groups barely cover enough for one meal a day.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 
A Rohingyan child naps inside a shelter provided by aid groups and the Myanmar government.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera Many of the Rohingya that have fled their villages have not been given shelter by the government, and have begun to create their own encampments using whatever materials are available.

/Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 
Rohingyan boys collect firewood in one of the IDP camps outside of Sittwe, Myanmar. Temperatures can vary drastically from searing daytime heat to cold nights and monsoon rains.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera
 Rohingya men pray in an under-construction mosque.

/Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera
 A policeman stands guard on a railway line that is also one of the entrances to an IDP camp. Rohingyans in the camps are not permitted to leave the encampments.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera
A policeman stands guard on a railway line that is also one of the entrances to an IDP camp. Rohingyans in the camps are not permitted to leave the encampments.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 
Myanmar police on patrol in one of the Rohingyan camps. Animosity towards the police is very high.

/Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 
During one confrontation between displaced Rohingya and police, several IDPs were severely injured when police opened fire.

 /Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera 

A gunshot victim waits to be evacuated by the Red Cross. Medical resources inside the camps are little to none and the Red Cross brings some of the wounded and sick into its small facilities in the town of Sittwe.

/Andrew Stanbridge/Al Jazeera A
 Rohingyan man holds bullets and casings left behind after police shot at a mob of Rohingyan IDP’s who were demanding the dead body of one of their villagers be released from police custody.