Refugee Week: The Living Silence - Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh at East Gallery, London

By Culture24 Staff | 14 June 2010
a black and white photo of a girl holding up her hand to the photographer

Picture Special: The Living Silence, East Gallery, London, for Refugee Week, June 15 – 24 2010

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is hosting a photographic exhibition for Refugee Week highlighting one of the world's most enduring refugee crises.

Living Silence is a photographic essay by award-winning photographer Saiful Huq Omi, which focuses on the plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar. Displaced from their home country, the Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group who have spent the past 20 years living in refugee camps in Thailand and Bangladesh.

a black and white photo of a figure on a hill with a sunset behind and two upturned boats in the foreground

Faced with poor living conditions and little hope, UNHCR has been working with the Rohingya to create a better future. A Muslim minority, many of the Rohingya live in Rakhine State, in Myanmar's north-west. They are said to be among the most persecuted ethnic groups in the world.

The Myanmar government refuses to recognise them as citizens and denies them the right to own land.

a black and white photo of a woman carrying a large bunch of foliage on her head

The refugee camp in Kutupalong Bangladesh is thought to host more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees and reveals a long and sorry tale of repression, displacement, poverty and disease.

Many have lived there for close to 20 years, but the Bangladeshi government divides the Rohingya into two categories – recognised refugees living in official camps and unrecognised refugees living in unofficial sites or among Bangladeshi communities.

a black and white photo of a girl skipping on a piece of waste ground near a shanty town

It's a growing crisis that many commentators see as a worsening one, with Bangladesh under pressure to address long-term needs of all the Rohingya refugees in the country and allow international organisations to intervene to benefit both the refugees and some of the Bangladeshi communities absorbing them.

Find out more about refugee week at

East Gallery
214 Brick Lane, London, EC1 6SA
Open 1pm-7pm (11am-6pm Saturday and Sunday).

All photos courtesy UNHCR. Copyright Saiful Huq Omi

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