Tonight Dateline looks at the crisis in the Andaman Sea as Rohingya Muslims adrift become a humanitarian and political emergency for multiple countries.
Their desperate faces stare out from the boats stranded in the Andaman Sea, but they have just one key question, who will take us in?
“There were between 300 and 400 people packed on the boat,” Nur Anquis tells Jason Motlagh on tonight’s Dateline at 9.30pm on SBS ONE. “We were at sea for nine days and we ate just one meal.”
Nur ended up in Malaysia, earning just $3 a day in a roadside café, and has no idea where her husband is after they became separated on the journey.
Rohingya Muslims like her number over a million in Myanmar, but they’re a tiny minority compared to the country’s dominant Rakhine Buddhist population.
“Rohingya are dangerous and they can always trouble us,” says senior monk U Pynya Sa Mi, who sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. “I myself live and sleep with fear. I’m afraid they will slit my throat.”
Such racial tensions have led to Rohingya being persecuted and killed, denied citizenship and exiled into government-run camps.
“In my view, the Rohingya should be kept separately in the camps,” the monk says. “They invaded and occupied our land.”
The camps are described by the government as being for the Rohingya’s protection with freedom and the same rights as citizens.
But in tonight’s story, Jason reveals the squalid conditions in what he describes as ‘concentration camps’.
Food is in short supply, aid groups have been kicked out, and a lack of doctors and medicine mean many are dying from treatable illnesses.
“Our community is hopeless and jobless,” Mohammad Idriss tells Jason. He saw his younger brother murdered by a Rakhine mob.
“I don’t want to make this risky journey, but I’ve got no other option than to go to Malaysia… I know there are no guarantees that I’ll survive.”
9.30pm tonight on SBS ONE.