Imagine living with no basic healthcare, sanitation or education systems. You have no citizenship because of a corrupt government. You can’t find a job because of discriminatory practices. You struggle to find food, water and shelter for your family.
That is reality for the residents of the Rakhine State in southwest Burma/Myanmar.
Although 800,000 residents of the Rakhine State were allowed to vote in November 2010 elections, they were given temporary registration cards that will soon expire without guarantee of permanent residential status.Without residential or citizen status, the people of the Rakhine state are considered stateless with no guarantees of basic rights.
There are currently 808,000 stateless persons in Burma, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/page?page=49e4877d6)
When inter-communal fighting began in the Rakhine State in June 2012, 75,000 residents fled from their homes and became internally displaced persons. This number added to the current 340,000 IDPs in Burma, according to the UNHCR.
The UNHCR is currently working to provide basic needs, such as sanitation, water, health and shelter for the Rakhine people. Additionally, the UNHCR is advocating the Burmese government to improve citizenship for displaced and undocumented residents.
World Relief Fort Worth settles many refugees from Burma, including the Chin and Karen people.