Let's Explore Perseverance with Elco van der Wilt
My humanitarian work brought me to Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, which houses the world’s biggest refugee camp. I documented the daily lives of the Rohingya, to try to give the numbers from the humanitarian organisations’ reports a face.
The Rohingya are considered to be the most oppressed and persecuted people on earth. They have no country, no citizenship and their culture are marginalized. They lived for centuries in Rakhine State, a border province in Buddhist Myanmar. The Muslim Rohingya face grave dangers. Children cannot go to school, they are prohibited to work, people don’t have access to medical care, there is no freedom of movement and are subject to ethnic cleansing and genocide.
This immediate danger to life, property and identity has led to an influx into Bangladesh, itself one of the poorest countries in the world. After a bout of violence, which erupted on 25 August 2017, around 700,000 Rohingyas crossed the border through dangerous terrain, by foot or in ramshackle boats. Thousands of people have been killed, burnt alive, raped and molested by the Myanmar Army, Buddhist Nationalists or died during the dangerous crossing into Bangladesh. They are gathered in makeshift camps and live under precarious conditions. It is one of the biggest refugee crises the world has ever seen.
Elco van der Wilt works as a humanitarian aid worker and a photographer in all corners of the world. He focuses on empowering underprivileged people and offering psycho-social support by using arts and creativity. Elco uses photography as a cross-over and a tool to address social issues and politics giving people a chance to tell visual stories.