(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Mohammad Ismail: “Nobody wants us”

“They don’t want us here," Mohammad Ismail says, refering to village residents close to the camp.
David Swanson/IRIN

Since the early 1990s, thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled repression in Burma/Myanmar and sought asylum in Bangladesh. Thousands more attempt to flee by boat, only to be lost at sea.

Mohammad Ismail, an ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar, arrived in Bangladesh as an orphan in 1992 and now lives in Kutupalong refugee camp, southern Bangladesh, one of two remaining government-administered camps; 28,000 documented refugees live at the two camps. Mohammad told IRIN about life at the camp.

“Living here is like a prison, but at least in a normal prison there are opportunities to do something. Here there is nothing. The only opportunity here is to be idle. Day by day, our lives are filled with nothing but darkness.

“It’s my dream to have a high school education, but that’s impossible here. After we complete primary education in the camp there are no opportunities for us to continue, so anything we learn after that is self-taught.

More on the Rohingya
 THAILAND: Government, Army to investigate claims of Rohingya abuse
 BANGLADESH: Rohingya refugee camps improved
 BANGLADESH-MYANMAR: Bleak prospects for the Rohingya

“I want to change my future. I want to go to high school. But I can’t. Only then do I see a light in my future.

“Life for us Rohingya is like a game of football - and we are the balls. The Bangladesh government doesn’t want us and kicks us back to Myanmar, which in turn kicks us back here. Nobody wants us, but we’re human beings, after all, aren’t we?

“Life in Bangladesh is hard. I don’t want to live here. Local people don’t like us and sometimes beat us. They say we steal their jobs. But what can we do? The Myanmar government doesn’t want us either.

“I hope to go to another country. I hope for an opportunity - any opportunity, any chance possible.”

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