REUTERS – The latest exodus of Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in northwest Myanmar has been called a potential “humanitarian catastrophe”. Around 313,000 refugees have crossed into Bangladesh since Rohingya militants attacked security forces in Rakhine state on August 25, prompting the military to launch a counter offensive targeting Rohingya villages.
Rohingyas are a Muslim minority who are denied citizenship in the former Burma. They have lived for decades in northwest Rakhine state under apartheid-like policies with severely restricted access to healthcare and education and limited freedom of movement. They are often referred to as ‘Bengali’ in Myanmar, a derogatory term that implies they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, although Rohingya families have lived in the area for generations.