Young men, boys flee violence in Myanmar by swimming to Bangladesh

In this Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, file photo, a Rohingya Muslim man, Muhammed Yunus, 28, who has not eaten for the past three days grimaces in pain as he along with others wait along the border for permission to proceed to refugee camps near Palong Khali, Bangladesh. More than 600,000 Rohingya from northern Rakhine state have fled to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, when Myanmar security forces began a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)

SHAH PORIR DWIP, Bangladesh (AP) – In the latest sign of desperation, some Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in their homeland of Myanmar are now swimming all the way to Bangladesh – even if they haven’t been in the water before.

In just a week, more than three dozen Rohingya boys and young men swam to Bangladesh, many by using yellow plastic cooking oil drums to help them float.

Although Rohingya Muslims have lived in Myanmar for decades, the country’s Buddhist majority still sees them as invaders from Bangladesh. The government denies them basic rights, and the United Nations has called them the most persecuted minority in the world. Just since August, after their homes were torched by Buddhist mobs and soldiers, more than 600,000 Rohingya have risked the trip to Bangladesh.

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