In July 2019, VOA launched a five-day-a-week radio show in Rohingya, the language spoken by Muslim refugees that have fled Myanmar. Titled Lifeline, the 30-minute radio show, is available through short and medium wave signals. The program focuses on the lives and needs of the refugees, providing them with valuable information on security, family reunification, food rations, available shelter, education and health including vaccinations and water purification. In addition, a daily segment of the program offers the refugees the opportunity to share their stories, extend greetings to their families and learn about the hazards of joining extremists groups. One overarching objective of the broadcast is to counter Muslim extremists’ narratives and recruitment efforts in the camps and inform the Rohingya about the U.S. and the international community’s involvement in the crisis.
Just before the coronavirus pandemic, a team of VOA journalists traveled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to support the work of local journalists contributing to the Rohingya Lifeline program.
Approximately 1,000,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh. According to World Vision, this Rohingya refugee crisis is one of the largest, fastest movements of people in recent history. The Rohingya, a mostly-Muslim minority ethnic group in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, are escaping violence, persecution and human rights abuses.