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.
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.
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.
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 www.refugeeweek.org.uk.
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All photos courtesy UNHCR. Copyright Saiful Huq Omi