Voices from the ground: Rohingya refugees flee to Bangladesh

UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan describes the desperation of refugees escaping violence in Myanmar.

Exhausted Rohingya refugees arrive in Teknaf, Bangladesh, after a five-hour voyage from Myanmar.
© UNHCR/Vivian Tan

We were driving to a refugee camp when we passed this beach. We saw dozens of boats on the sea and people just streaming off them. These people were exhausted but they were also relieved. Some of them just collapsed on the beach.

This was the most desperate and devastating thing I’ve seen in my 15 years of working with refugees. It reminded me of photos I’ve seen of Vietnamese boat people in the 1980s. But this is 30 years later. How can it be happening again?

On 5 September UNHCR briefed the press corps in Geneva about the situation in Myanmar. Our statement can be found here.