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Chilling Photos of the Hundreds of Thousands of Rohingya Fleeing Burma
It’s the world’s fastest exodus since the Rwandan genocide.
Photos by Greg Constantine; Text by Samantha MichaelsOctober 1, 2017 6:00 AM
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In 2006, photojournalist Greg Constantine set out to Bangladesh to document Rohingya Muslims from Burma who had fled across the border after being pushed out of their homes. He returned many times over the next 10 years, creating the book Exiled to Nowhere: Burma’s Rohingya in 2012. He was subsequently blacklisted and deported from Burma in 2016 for his reporting.
With news of increasing atrocities against the Rohingya, Constantine returned to the border in mid-September, after the Burmese military launched a scorched-earth campaign against the Muslim minority that the United Nations has since described as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” Over the past several weeks, about half a million people have fled their homes in Burma—the fastest exodus of refugees from a single country since before the Rwandan genocide. On Thursday, dozens of Rohingya refugees drowned off the coast of Bangladesh after their boat capsized in rough waters. Those traveling by foot also face the risk of landmines, which the Burmese military has been accused of planting in their path.
As tens of thousands of Rohingya cross into Bangladesh every day, refugee camps have swelled, with miles of makeshift shelters constructed of bamboo and plastic. Aid workers say most of the Rohingya there are pregnant women and mothers with babies and young children. Over the course of two weeks, Constantine photographed these sprawling border camps to document the harrowing stories of refugees who have lost everything and are now struggling to survive.