The statistics from our Rohingya report are sickening

We estimate over 6,700 Rohingya were killed in Myanmar in one month. The testimonies describe a living hell.

November 2017: Conditions of life for Rohingya children at the refugee camps in Bangladesh are grim. Photo: Mohammad Ghannam/MSF
November 2017: Um Kalsoum’s 18-month-old boy Abdul Hafiz survived. Photo: Mohammad Ghannam/MSF
October 2017: Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River from Myanmar into Bangladesh. Photos: Moises Saman/Magnum Photos for MSF

Timeline: Decades of Anguish in an Underreported Crisis

June, 2006. Photo: Greg Constantine


Myanmar, the country then known as Burma, launches Operation Dragon King (Naga Min) in Rakhine state. The Rohingya ethnic minority are considered “illegal” after being stripped of their citizenship, thus beginning a cycle of forced displacement.


Operation Dragon King includes mass arrests, persecution, and horrific violence, driving some 200,000 Rohingya across the border to Bangladesh. The neighboring country opens refugee camps, where MSF provides medical aid. But by 1979, most of the Rohingya are repatriated to Burma. Of those remaining in Bangladesh, some 10,000 people die, the majority children, after food rations are cut.

January 1992, Bangladesh. Photo: John Vink


After a military crackdown that follows the suppression of a popular uprising, Burma is renamed Myanmar. The ruling State Law and Order Restoration Council increases its military presence in northern Rakhine state, and the Rohingya are reportedly subject to compulsory labor, forced relocation, rape, summary executions, and torture. Some 250,000 Rohingya flee to Bangladesh.

January 1992, Bangladesh. Photo: John Vink


MSF provides medical services in nine of the 20 refugee camps established for the Rohingya in southwestern Bangladesh. Food, water, and sanitation in the camps are inadequate.

January 1992: The scene at Dumdumia Camp, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, shows the lack of adequate shelter. Photo: Liba Taylor


Rohingya refugees arrive in Bangladesh, bringing only what they can carry. The governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar sign an agreement to repatriate refugees, and the camps are closed to new arrivals in the spring. By fall, forced repatriation begins, despite protests by the international community. Over the following years, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are sent back to Myanmar, and new refugees attempting the journey are denied entry to Bangladesh.


Of the 20 camps that were built in Bangladesh in the early ’90s, two remain: Nayapara camp near Teknaf and Kutupalong camp near Ukhia. Living conditions remain dire — a study finds that 58 percent of children and 53 percent of adults are chronically malnourished.


Some 79 percent of the shelters in the two remaining camps in Bangladesh are flooded during the rainy season. The substandard conditions contribute to cases of diarrhea, respiratory infections, and malnutrition. At the MSF therapeutic feeding center serving the makeshift camp near Teknaf, staff take care of an average of 40 severely malnourished children each day.

June 2006. Photo: Greg Constantine


MSF runs a medical facility in Kutupalong makeshift camp in Bangladesh. Only a small percentage of Rohingya seeking refuge in Bangladesh are officially recognized as refugees. Unrecognized Rohingya refugees are vulnerable to harassment and exploitation.

September 2009: Kutupalong makeshift camp. Photos: Juan Carlos Tomasi


MSF’s clinic in Kutupalong makeshift camp provides comprehensive medical care to Rohingya refugees and the local community in Bangladesh. The October 9 Rohingya militant attacks on border police in Myanmar’s Rakhine state trigger reprisals against the Rohingya community, bringing a new wave of refugees across the border and an influx of patients to the MSF clinic in November and December.


Following Rohingya militia attacks on several police and army posts in Myanmar on August 25, state security forces launch a campaign of horrific violence and terror targeting the Rohingya community. Since then, more than 647,000 Rohingya (according to the Inter Sector Coordination Group as of December 12) have fled from Myanmar. The cycle of mass displacement begins again, this time on an unprecedented scale.

October 2017: Kutupalong. Photos: William Daniels/National Geographic Magazine,
Mohammad Ghannam/MSF, Antonio Faccilongo


Medical facilities in Bangladesh, including those run by MSF, are quickly overwhelmed. In September, MSF calls for an immediate scale-up of humanitarian aid to the Rohingya in Bangladesh to avoid a public health disaster. MSF also urges the government of Myanmar to allow independent humanitarian organizations unfettered access to northern Rakhine state.

“I hope they will not force us to go back to Myanmar, only to be slaughtered again in silence.”

November 2017: Mohammad Ali, a Rohingya refugee, lost his wife and two granddaughters while on their way to Bangladesh. Photo: Mohammad Ghannam/MSF



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Doctors Without Borders

Medical aid org working globally to assist people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe.