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The Stateless Rohingya

David Verberckt | Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, Malaysia, Thailand

Displaced Rohingya victim of inter ethnic voilance. Thau Chaung camp for displaced Rohingya from Sittwe. Sittwe township, Myanmar, October 2016

More than 10 million people worldwide have no nationality and most are stateless by no fault of their own. Not having a nationality usually occurs because of discrimination against certain groups.

Over a million Rohingya live in Myanmar (Burma) where they are stateless in their own country. The Rohingya are a Muslim minority, living mainly in the Northwestern Sate of Rakhine, Myanmar (Burma). They have been discriminated, persecuted and deprived of citizenship since the end of the seventies by the Burmese authorities and are not even recognized as a minority. As a result, Rohingya have been segregated and excluded from civil society in places they have lived for several generations. Without citizenship or documents, Rohingya belong to no country and are deprived of civil, social and human rights. They will usually be denied access to the legal labour market, to basic health care services and, most of all, to proper education.

In Myanmar, Rohingya have been relocated in interment camps for internally displaced persons, not allowed to leave without permission and police escort. More than half a million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during the past decades, to makeshift camps and registered refugee camps.

Prospects for education, employment, basic human rights, such as housing and access to medical facilities, and hope for dignified life are practically inexistent and impossible for the stateless. Thousands have fallen victim of human smugglers on their way for a better life in Malaysia or India, ending up in prison camps and held for ransom or in situations of bonded labour. The proportion of families that have been resettled in Europe or the US where they can start a new life is extremely low compared to the scope of this forgotten tragedy. Having usually no other document than a registration card, Rohingya are usually not allowed to travel within their own or host country without the risk of being arrested and jailed. Being stateless keeps them in a poverty limbo on the extreme margins of society.

This is a story of the stateless and forgotten Rohingya.

My photographic stories focus on everyday life of people in precarious situations, portraying them as our fellow human beings who are deprived of essentials that most of the other people have and take for granted.
In this sense, my objective is to increase awareness and bring in the interest to these overlooked subjects as they mostly go unnoticed next to the major world refugee and conflict crises that draw the media attention.
I have taken on the responsibility to make my images eloquent and I do trust that, by having a drive to bring closer these bigger human ideas through cornerstone of visual memory, I can contribute to both my own, public audience’s and SDN's growth and principles.

David Verberckt

Erzsebet Körut, 52

1073 Budapest, Hungary

+36 30 246 0392


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