The Biggest Expulsion of Our Time: A Photo Report Documenting the Plight of the Rohingya

  • Martin Trabalík
  • 30.11.2018 07:36

In the August of 2017, the outburst of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state caused the fastest expulsion of people in modern history: The Rohingya exodus. More than half a million people fled to neighbouring Bangladesh, bringing testimonies of killings, rape and burnt villages. The refugees are now concentrated in Cox's Bazar, making it the place most densely populated by refugees in the world.


This grievous event was photographed in Bangladesh by Martin Trabalik.

Shah Porir island

Not long ago, this island was a home for only a few fishermen. During the exodus, it became one of the first refuges for thousands of people fleeing Myanmar. 



Rohingya family disembarks in Bangladesh

Thousands of refugees disembark at the Shah Porir island to head into Bangladesh in a search for safe haven in refugee camps.
This photo also won a prize at Czech Press Photo in the category "Problems of Our Times". 



Line of refugees in Bangladesh

The refugees are heading towards refugee camps in southern Bangladesh. Ironically, the south of Bangladesh is frequently visited by tourists and offers a lot of holiday resorts or even the world's longest beach.



Rain and mud in a refugee camp

Rohingyas waiting for the distribution of humanitarian aid in a heavy rain. The weather is one of the biggest challenges in Bangladesh. During the monsoon season, rains can last for days and storms often cause flooding and landslides.



Refugees asking for humanitarian help



Refugee registration number

These numbers are assigned by the Bangladeshi government, officially confirming the refugee status. This should provide the recipients with a guarantee that they will be able to return to their homeland in the future.



Shubaik rests in his chair while his wounds slowly heal

The last thing he remembers is that he went to visit his father who was the Imam of his village. Then the shooting started, followed by a flash of sharp pain and darkness. Shubaik was carried unconscious over the border by his friends and relatives. He was hit by two bullets in the abdomen area. He will never see his father again.



Rohingya couple observes their new home

Due to the decision by the Bangladeshi government to concentrate all the arriving people in one area, Kutupalong refugee camp is growing into one of the world's biggest refugee camps.



Kutupalong refugee camp

Kutupalong refugee camp is one of the oldest and largest refugee camps in the south of Bangladesh. With the recent influx, it might soon become one of the largest refugee camps in the world.




Martin Trabalik is a Czech photographer and cameraman based in Prague. In his work, he focuses on social and humanitarian issues. He studied Humanities at Charles University in Prague, but soon left to Japan, where he studied Japanese culture, Martial Arts and Physical Education. After his return to Prague, he worked for Czech NGO Nautis. During the European refugee crisis in the January of 2016, he went to volunteer on the Greek island of Lesbos. He then spent half a year in Greece and the Balkans and became interested in photography. Since then, he has worked on several projects, travelling to Spain, Armenia, Poland and recently Bangladesh. Martin frequently works with the reporter Ariadna Garcia Chas and together they form a documentary duo Drowned in Venice. 


About author: Martin Trabalík


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