Five years on: Rohingya realities and hopes


This August marks 5 years since the start of the current phase of the Rohingya refugee crisis. In 2017, the Myanmar military committed a ‘clearance operation’ brutal crackdown on Rohingya communities in Rakhine State, Myanmar.Amidst horrendous violence and atrocity crimes, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled across the border in search of safety in Bangladesh.  Almost a million refugees now live in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh—in the world’s single largest cluster of refugee camps. They are unable to return home given ongoing persecution and conflict in Myanmar. To help raise awareness and amplify the voices of Rohingya living through the crisis after 5 years fled from their homes, Oxfam is showcasing the stories, creative work and diverse perspectives of Rohingya.

Following an open ‘call for artist submissions’, we received a wide range of visual art, photography, writing, and poetry from Rohingya artists. The artwork speaks to the incredible resilience of the Rohingya community as artists reflect upon past hardships and trauma, daily joys, and their hopes for the future.

We are thrilled to share this year’s selected pieces below. Winning submissions from Oxfam’s 2021 Rohingya Art campaign are available here and 2020 are available here.


Let Me Breathe Once

I’m a tiger with strength
My pleasure is in forest
But I’m trapped in zoo
Where there’s no freedom.

I’m a fox with proficiency
My pleasure is in night-time
But I crouch in hole in daytime
In await of darkness of night.

I’m a birdwith wings
My pleasure is in air
But I’m entrapped in a cage
Just colliding inside to fly away

I’m a human with human’s organs
My pleasure is to live like others
But I was born for torture
Let me breathe once like you do.

By –Azimul Hasson

Rohingya Arts Campaign 2022 Winners

  • Iddris – I have a dream and Being a Rohingya Refugee
  • Mujibor Rahman – 25 August 2017
  • Ro Abdula – Journey of a Rohingya to justice and Life behind the Barbed-wire fence and A little girl
  • Mohammed Zonaid – Refugee is a sample hell
  • Md. Saidul Hoque – Meet A Rohingya Child
  • Azimul Hasson - Let Me Breathe Once


Oxfam is grateful to the incredible artists who shared their stories and creative pieces with us, and the honorable winners.

Oxfam would also like to acknowledge ActionAid Bangladesh team and the many other organisations and activists who helped us circulate the call for submissions. To follow more stories and art created by Rohingya artists check out the following initiatives.


  • The Art Garden Rohingya is the first Rohingya community-based online poetry website with about 200 emerging young Rohingya poets involved.
  • Omar’s Film School is based in Kutupalong Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The school trains Rohingya youth in photography and videography.
  • Rohingya Photography Competition for Rohingya refugees initiated by Shafiur Rahman, UK-based journalist and activist.
  • The Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre is a community space and interactive gallery that showcases cultural artifacts and artworks researched and produced by Rohingya refugee artists and cultural practitioners living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.


Support Rohingyan Refugees in Bangladesh

Close to a million Rohingya people, more than half of them children, have fled violence in Myanmar to seek refuge across the border in Bangladesh. Learn more about the crisis, Oxfam’s response on both sides of the border and how you can help.