Where are Rohingya Refugees Now?

by Rena Ahuja (PACE Volunteer – G7 Dover Parent)

“Once we had country & thought it fair, look in the atlas you’ll find it there” – W.H Auden from Refugee Blues

Rohingyas, as of today are struggling to lead a safe and respectable life. All of this while living outside of their birthplaces – Myanmar. Rohingyas were forced to flee Myanmar in August 2017 due to targeted violence against their community. The Rohingya people have faced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness, and targeted violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar. Such persecution has forced Rohingya women, girls, boys, and men into Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia for many years.

It’s a double whammy then, that the world’s struggling economies are forced to open their doors to thousands of lives. Governments and communities are scrambling for laws in order to support hordes of refugees that arrive in their countries every year. Refugees in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Bangladesh mostly seek temporary livelihoods, while waiting for resettlement to a third country, a process that could take years. 

Some refugees flee to Malaysia & Indonesia by sea between the months of November and April when the seas are calm. Thousands embarked on never-ending sea journeys. Their plight was worsened due to the pandemic forcing governments to shut their borders as a precautionary measure. 

Countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its protocol. Hence, there is no asylum system regulating the status and rights to the education of children. 

Children are the most vulnerable lot in such crisis times. They are forced to live in extremely congested camps often exposing them to hazards like fire, harassment, and malnourishment. Many local NGOs have stepped into neighboring Malaysia to provide basic necessities like food, clothes, shelter, and healthcare. While these are the most urgent and life-saving support in demand; education is often overlooked. Education is empowering and also a basic human right.

The PACE community this year has partnered with Caya Surya Bhakti (CSB), a non-profit that provides primary and secondary education to the children of Rohingya refugees thus allowing them to dream of a future beyond their illegal status in Malaysia. A world where they can thrive independently and fearlessly. Do have a read here, on PACE’s efforts to support CSB in Johor, Malaysia. CSB is a dynamic, grassroots organisation based in Johor, Malaysia. It was founded in 2013 to support Rohingya refugee families from Myanmar – and help educate their children. This year we will ask the UWCSEA community to come together once again to show their support for the value of education. To raise funds for this worthy cause, a fun quiz night is coming up in the new year, read all about it here.

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