Mohammad Ismail says four of his relatives were killed by gunmen in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh between April and October last year. He recalls a September night when, he says, he almost met the same fate: masked men abducted him, chopped off parts of his left arm and leg, and dumped him in a canal.
“They asked me repeatedly why I gave their personal details to the police,” Ismail told Reuters in the Kutupalong refugee camp, sitting on a plastic mat with his left limbs covered in a white bandage and cloth. “I kept telling them that I didn’t know anything about them and I didn’t give any information.”
Some 730,000 Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority present in Myanmar for centuries but denied citizenship in the Buddhist-majority nation since 1982, fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military crackdown. About 1 million live near the border in thousands of shanties made of bamboo and thin plastic sheets, including others who have migrated in waves from the east.
Growing numbers of Rohingya are now leaving Bangladesh for countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia via perilous boat journeys, as rising crime in the camps adds to longstanding troubles such as lack of educational and work opportunities and bleak prospects of returning to military-ruled Myanmar .