The reality of Cox's Bazar, home to the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis

The United Nations says Bangladesh now faces the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. 

Close to a million Rohingya - a stateless Indo-Aryan-speaking people who reside in Myanmar's Rakhine State - are now living in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, after fleeing their homes in bordering Myanmar. 

The refugee population has reached 891,233. 

Myanmar's military has been accused of burning their villages and carrying out extrajudicial killings, which the United Nations calls "textbook ethnic cleansing". 

Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, does not recognise the Rohingya Muslims as citizens.

Cradling her youngest of eight daughters, Modena arrived in Kutupalong, Cox's Bazar, with little more than the nightmarish memories of the Myanmar military.

"We feel secure here in Bangladesh, but in Myanmar we are always thinking, 'Someone's coming, someone's coming' and we can't sleep at night," she told Newshub. 

One day almost a year ago, someone did come. It was soldiers, Modena says - and they shot both her husband and brother. She only survived by hiding in the forest for eight days.

The area in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar has become what's known as Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee camp.
The area in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar has become what's known as Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee camp. Photo credit: Newshub

"I am thinking 'Where will I go and where is the future?' I don't know."

They are citizens of nowhere - and for now, the future is trying to get by in this labyrinth of waterlogged bamboo huts. 

It's what's known as Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee camp.

"We have here just under a million people living in 10 square kilometres and they are not spread out," says Helen Manson from Tearfund New Zealand. 

"They are packed to the brim. They're on precarious hillsides... really steep slopes."

The sheer scale of the camp is incredible and it's amazing to think that none of this actually existed a year ago. Now, close to 900,000 people live there - and 60 percent of the population is children.

There is work underway to give young minds hope. In one of the huts, English and Burmese is taught twice daily to a group of 13 to 18-year-olds. Outside the hut, there's a game of takraw, a popular sport among young Rohingya. 

"When we play activities it makes us feel better and takes away our previous experiences," Obias, the team captain, tells Newshub.

Young Sun Youn, a psychotherapist, says at least the Rohingya have a place to go. She says it's "a safe place, and every day we have activities so it's giving them a chance to have normality".

It's all part of the healing process in a crisis which is only getting more complex, as the tortured and terrified continue to trickle across the border into Bangladesh. 

If you'd like to support the people there, you can donate to Tearfund's Rohingya Crisis Appeal by visiting tearfund.org.nz or calling 0800 800 777.

Newshub. 

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