This week, in a stifling hot room in Malaysia filled with more than 50 Rohingya refugees, my own work with the community came full circle. I was sitting among dozens of people who had fled the very same displacement camps in Sittwe, Myanmar that I had visited twice before in 2012 and 2014. When I arrived in September 2012, Rohingya were still entering the camps and there was almost no clean water, food, or shelter. People were literally starving. It was the worst situation I had ever witnessed.
Earlier this year, the world watched in both horror and sadness as thousands of desperate Rohingya who had fled persecution in Myanmar were abandoned on boats without food or water. As countless numbers died of dehydration and starvation each day, neighboring countries quarreled over who should take them in and how limited their assistance would be. Finally, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to accept up to 7,000 Rohingya, but only on the condition that they would be resettled out of their countries within a year.
Sean and I just returned from our mission to Bangladesh and Malaysia, where we focused on the situation for Burmese Rohingya refugees in both countries. I last conducted an assessment mission to Malaysia in April 2007.
Al Jazeera English recently did a piece on street children in Sabah, Malaysia. You can view the clip here. I visited Sabah in April while on mission in Malaysia to look at the humanitarian situation for Burmese refugees. Sabah is a beautiful part of Malaysia that attracts many visitors who are interested in eco-tourism.