Rohingya Vision

Rohingya’s Life After the Boat Journey to Malaysia

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Rohingya’s Life After the Boat Journey to Malaysia
June 25
11:02 2015

Kamal (62) and Bibi (61) were forced to flee for their lives from Burma two years ago. In 2012, conflict broke out between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Arakan (Rakhine) state. Riots erupted and Rohingya people were driven from their homes into camps on the border with Bangladesh. Over 2,000 homes were burnt down and 90,000 people were displaced.

While in the camp, Kamal spoke to the media about the treatment of Rohingya people in Burma. He explained that soon after talking he was told he would be arrested by the government if he did not flee the country.

Kamal, Bibi and their teenage son came to Malaysia hoping to be resettled to another country. But they have been unable to register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) – despite many attempts – and to date they remain undocumented.

Kamal and Bibi are struggling to survive in Malaysia without full-time work. They earn a little money cutting betel nut, which they sell to fellow refugees. Each day they can cut 5 kilos of betel nut, earning a paltry 10 Malaysian Ringgit ($2.70). It is physically demanding work, particularly for elderly people, requiring them to be hunched over for hours, with the constant risk of injuring their fingers.

Kamal also earns some money by teaching English and Burmese to Rohingya children. Fellow Rohingyas in the area know him to be one of the few people with English skills, so they hired him to teach their children. Speaking English or Malay can dramatically help people survive in Kuala Lumpur. It can open up job opportunities or make it easier to communicate with authorities and avoid arrest.

image by:spaceman

Bibi used to earn some income through tailoring clothes in Burma. A friend there gave them a used sewing machine when they came to Kuala Lumpur, allowing her to earn a little money. But her eyes are slowly deteriorating and she is only able to sew a little each day, limiting how much she can earn through sewing.


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Source:New Internationalist.




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