Amid rapidly escalating tensions in the Rakhine region of eastern Myanmar, it is now estimated that nearly one million Rohingya Muslims have arrived in Bangladesh. This problem has been getting steadily worse for decades now, but the recent increase in refugees entering Bangladesh has been described as “untenable” by Shameem Ahsan, Bangladesh's United Nations envoy.

The Rohingya crisis

The situation for the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, has long been precarious in the region thanks to years of persecution and violence.

It began, in its current form, when Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948, at which point Myanmar refused to recognize Rohingya as one of Myanmar's ethnic groups, rendering them stateless. This is still the situation that the Rohingya find themselves in and, as a result, they do not receive the same rights as other citizens with regard to jobs, security, freedom of movement etc.

The problem escalated last October when Rohingya insurgents attacked border posts on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. This led to the deaths of nine Burmese border officers. Since then the Burmese army has launched full-scale assaults on the Rohingya people which included murder and the withholding of aid supplies, among other crimes.

Thousands have died in the last year and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

What is being done?

Jordan's Queen Rania visited refugee camps in Bangladesh last week and echoed the message of the U.N.

regarding the need for aid, asking “why is the plight of this Muslim minority group being ignored?” The amount needed in the short term has been calculated by the U.N. at $340 million over the next six months. Large amounts have recently been pledged by Kuwait, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia, but more is still needed.

Aside from the need to provide support to the displaced Rohingya, there is also the danger that still exists for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya still in Myanmar. However, this is even more difficult to assess given the continued denial of access to troubled areas from the Burmese government. The continued obstruction and seeming lack of concern for the Rohingya's plight within Myanmar speaks to wider human rights issues within the country.

The role of Aung San Suu Kyi

This is especially pertinent given the fact that Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is held in such high regard on the international political stage due to her activism in fighting for democracy in Myanmar. This esteem includes a Nobel Peace Prize.

Although she doesn't have full control of the armed forces that are responsible for the persecution of the Rohingya, she has yet to speak out against the violence perpetrated, instead choosing to blast 'fake news' for helping to encourage terrorists. This has led to some questioning of her stance on human rights, including a recent plea from Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, not to “destroy” her image.

Whatever the case, politically, the fact remains hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims either remain in danger or are in desperate need of aid.