Rising crime and a bleak future force Bangladesh’s Rohingya to risk their lives at sea

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Mohammed Ismail says four of his family members were killed by gunmen in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps between April and October last year. He recalls the September night when, he says, he nearly suffered the same fate: Masked men kidnapped him, cut off parts of his left arm and leg, and dumped him in a canal.

“They repeatedly asked me why I gave their personal information to the police,” said Ismail, sitting on a plastic mat with his left limbs covered with white bandages and cloth, in Kutupalong refugee camp. “I kept telling them that I knew nothing about them and had not provided any information.”

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About 730,000 Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim minority that has been present in Myanmar for centuries but has been denied citizenship in the Buddhist-majority country since 1982, fled to Bangladesh in 2017 to escape a military crackdown. Including others who migrated in previous waves, nearly 1 million live near the border in tens of thousands of huts made of bamboo and thin plastic sheets.

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