In June 2012, mobs of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists tore through Rohingya Muslim neighbourhoods in the coastal town of Sittwe, attacking anyone in their path. The killings were part of a gathering wave of sectarian violence that has spread to other parts of the country, amid accusations that security forces have turned a blind eye to bloodshed.
140,000 Rohingya uprooted from their ancestral homes live in what have been likened to concentration camps, trapped between armed guards and the sea. Burma’s government insists it is for their own protection, but aid groups have been kicked out, and food and medical supplies are limited, resulting in a surge of deaths from treatable illnesses.
As despair yields to desperation, greater numbers of Rohingya are risking their lives on a dangerous journey at sea to reach Malaysia, a Muslim country about 2,000 miles away, in what has become one of the largest boat exodus’ since the Vietnam War.
But in their bid for freedom, the refugees are fleeing into the hands of transnational trafficking rings in Thailand and Malaysia that are profiting from their pain with the collusion of corrupt law enforcement. Along the way, governments and international aid agencies are largely failing to protect refugees from abuse and exploitation.
The situation for these refugees is desperate. A persecuted minority, they live on the edge of survival everyday. Pray for them, for God to intervene, for those who will fight for justice for them, for revelations of God that will bring many to faith in the living God.