The Rohingya are an ethnic minority group from Myanmar (Burma) fled persecution to neighbouring Bangladesh during 1992. They are settled in UN supported refugee camps in Bangladesh. In 2005 the United Nations began to assist in the resettlement of refugees from the two registered refugee camps Nayapara and Kutupalong in Bangladesh to other parts of the world first time.
They have been living in Bangladesh refugee camps for many years and successfully resettled 302 refugees from 2008 to 2010. More recently, the Bradford has received another Rohingya family under the Gateway Protection Programme from Malaysia.
However, the world witnessed in 2017, the brutal military burnt down Rohingya villages and displaced more than 745,000 Rohingya from Myanmar and killed thousands more, with security forces systematically targeting communities with arson, rape and mass executions. It has been preceded by many decades of discrimination and the displacing of many Rohingya to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand and elsewhere – including us as we resettled among 302 refugees in Bradford. As the voice of Rohingya people, we are working to create awareness through education of these humanitarian crisis. It’s also to show humanity that hope is still alive. It focuses on creating a better, safer, diverse, healthier, and accepting the society wherever the Rohingya people reside.
Rohingya people in Myanmar are still facing unimaginable horror persecution and violence, forcing them to leave their home country. Made them stateless since 1982, so living without nationality and all the protections, the Rohingya people feel like they don’t belong to nowhere and exits even though they are indigenous people of Arakan state in Myanmar. They are still caught in limbo inside Myanmar and Bangladesh. Conditions in camps are extremely challenging and overcrowded, and restricted fundamental human rights such as access to formal education, poor healthcare which cause diseases, spread easily and go untreated. When we were living there in 2008, the camp was only home to around 32,000 refugees. This has now grown to more than 1.2 million refugees.
The refugee camps in Bangladesh are like an open prison, people aren’t allowed to go outside the camps. They have limited food, medicines, clothes and shelter where all family has to live in a tiny shed.
We were very fortunate that we were brought to the UK in 2008 under the Gateway Protection Programme with the support of UN and UNHCR. But we have been profoundly affected by the trauma that our close families, relatives and friends are going through. Despite the fact, we are living in the UK cannot be happy as our parents, sisters and brothers are still suffering in camps and the persecution continues in Myanmar.
As Rohingya, we proved that what can happen when refugees are supported to build a secure future and when efforts are made to ensure they can feel part of their new community. The Bradford Council welcomed and helped us to settle in.
Rohingya people are going to college, university and working here with dignity – these are great opportunities. In Bangladesh, we didn’t have any education or future. But now we can have a future – after coming here it’s like a different world. It’s safe here.
Here we struggle to reunite with our families and relatives. Everyday family life is full of wonderful moments we all take for granted. But many refugee families like us are being forced apart. After fleeing conflict and persecution, unfair and restrictive rules have forced apart mums and dads from their children, sisters from brothers, and elderly parents left behind in camps. Therefore, we call the British government to reunite families that still trapped in camps, Bangladesh and elsewhere.