Intended for healthcare professionals


Imminent health crises among the Rohingya people of Myanmar

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 15 November 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5210
  1. Nicola S Pocock, postdoctoral fellow1,
  2. Syed S Mahmood, clinical fellow, cardiology2,
  3. Cathy Zimmerman, professor3,
  4. Miriam Orcutt, coordinator and research associate4
  1. 1United Nations University International Institute of Global Health, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. 2New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Centre, New York, US
  3. 3London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  4. 4UCL-Lancet commission on migration and health, University College London, UK
  1. Corresponding author: Nicola Pocock nicola.pocock{at}

The international community must act to stop “slow burning genocide”

The Rohingya people have resided in Myanmar since before 1799,12 but in 1982 the state stripped them of citizenship under the pretext that they were “illegal” migrants from Bangladesh.3 Decades of statelessness and systematic persecution has meant the Rohingya have been excluded from education and healthcare, subjected to restrictions on births and marriages, and forced to relocate to camps for internally displaced people, where their movement is severely restricted. As a consequence, the Rohingya have an acute malnutrition rate 50% higher than non-Rohingya residents in Rakhine state, and diarrhoeal illness rate five times greater than the general population of Myanmar.2

“Ethnic cleansing”

Cycles of abuse against the Rohingya are seemingly relentless. Reports of sexual violence among women and children are pervasive. Since August 2017, Myanmar’s military justified another wave of ruthless attacks as a response to violence by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. Consequently, over 600 000 Rohingya—or half of the 1.23 million Rohingya population of Myanmar—have fled …

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