As of January 2018, about 1 million Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar has settled in overcrowded informal camps near Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh. It is estimated over 580,000 are children.
The lucky ones are with family who could protect them. But many children have lost their family and are essentially fending for themselves and their younger siblings on their own. Instead of being in school, these children will wait in line several hours each morning for food, medicine, daily necessities and other handouts. As these children solemnly moved through their daily activities with eyes were too old for their age, one can only imagine what horrors and atrocities they had seen and endured on their journey here.
The refugee camps are organized informally among the rolling hills outside of Cox Bazaar. Most of the trees had been striped and cut down to make space for the tents and to be used as building material and firewood. With the help of various international NGOs, shelters and latrines are being built, pumps for fresh water are being provided and food and other daily needs are being handed out. There is a strong Bangladeshi military presence in the area to keep the refugees in their camps, although locals and reporters seem to be free to move in and out at this time. There has already been internal conflicts and violence within the camps as the refugee groups clash for territory rights and powers as they try to self organize.
With over 60% of the refugees being women and children, and with an estimated over 80,000 newborns this year, there is a disproportionately high population that are vulnerable to violence and human trafficking. Although, there has been talk of resettlement back in Myanmar, it may take decades or a whole generation before and if this goes through. In the meantime, with all the media coverage, foreign aid has made their lives temporarily bearable in these hills. But with no long-term solution in sight and the inability to work in Bangladesh, the future looked pretty bleak for these refugees.
About Larry Louie
Based in Edmonton, Canada, Larry Louie is a practicing optometrist and a travel and documentary photographer who have managed to combine his interests to promote the work of different charities around the world. In his clinic, he works to enhance the vision of people from all walks of life. On his travels, Larry becomes a humanitarian documentary photographer, exploring the lives of remote indigenous people, and documenting social issues changing people’s perception of the world around them. Amidst devastation, drudgery and deprivation, he saw dignity, ambition and joy. His images are a combination of the truth, the despair and the beauty of humanity; a celebration of the human spirit, the strength and hope in the face of incredible hardship. He wants to engage people in inspiring stories of perseverance and strength, not only of those who have found themselves caught in such a plight, but also amazing individuals and organizations that are lending a helping hand. He hopes his photographs will be able to tell the stories and make a difference, and to reveal light that is found in the darkest of places. [Official Website]