It was late November—two weeks after the elections—and Nura Din needed to escape the They Key Pyin Internally Displaced Persons Camp. The monsoon season was over—there had been no heavy rain for weeks—and the Bay of Bengal was becoming calm again. The smuggling networks were already rumored to be kicking back into gear: Soon small fishing boats would take members of the escaping Rohingya—a Muslim community in Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma—out along the Kalaman River, where they’d connect with bigger boats in the bay. Anywhere was better than here. “Wherever the boat lands,” he said, was good enough.
His parents agreed that he had to get out. Nura Din is only 13 years old, but he has four younger siblings and the international aid agencies, which are under strain dealing with refugee crises around the globe, are cutting back their food allotments to Rohingya refugees. He had heard about Myanmar’s recent national election, from which the Rohingya had been excluded, but he didn’t know anything about it. “I don’t want to live here anymore,” he said. Recently the Burmese government authorities have entered camps and punished Rohingya who speak with journalists. He was hungry in class, he said. He was hungry now, chatting with a journalist.