Myanmar’s Anguish Exposed by Troubling Drone Aerial Imagery

Introduction

Migration, violence and oppression are a few terms that aptly define the unfortunate Rohingya refugee crisis but technology has come to the fore to provide new avenues to come in terms with it, said a statement released by rights based groups and charities.More than 800,000 Rohingya refugees migrated to the neighboring Bangladesh from Myanmar and their plight along with their dire needs are being highlighted by the powerful drone and satellite imagery which also serves as an irrefutable evidence of abuses being perpetrated against the ethnic group and can go a long way in lobbying for justice.

Andrej Mahecic, a representative of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says that the agency can vouch for several incidents wherein scores of refugees have been witnessed to be attempting to cross the international border and the existing camps have expanded unimaginably. However, he says, one image describes it all!Myanmar has predominantly Buddhist population but the tensions in the region escalated with the initiation of a counter-insurgency operation against the ethnic group after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants.

The military operations have resulted in displacement of no less than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims. The magnitude of migration crisis is being underscored by UNHCR with the help of aerial imagery captured with satellites and drones in a bid to encourage action from public, donors and investors.Satellites are also be used to enumerate and identify refugee families by their location in Bangladesh camps to target assistance to those in need, Mahecic said in an email to Thomas Reuters Foundation.

Donations have seen a rise in the aftermath of drone footage of refugees making way into Bangladesh in relation to medical care, food and water, said a statement by Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) which is an alliance of 13 top British charities.Rights groups are also optimistic that aerial imagery captured with drones and satellites will prove to be instrumental in bringing offenders to justice.
Satellite images were used in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to prove mass executions way back in 1995 in Srebrenica.

However, budgetary constraints and absence of standardized approaches acceptable to courts are still considered as massive impediments in the application of technology.Satellite photographs showing the burning of about 300 villages, mobile phone video footages and refugee testimonies have been shared by Human Rights Watch with the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Josh Lyons is a satellite imagery analyst who is working with the US based rights group and says that the group has unearthed the debris field where people were killed; accounts which were confirmed by multiple statements given by eyewitnesses.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the oppression of Rohingya Muslims an undeniable case of ethnic cleansing and his office is burning midnight oil to ascertain if it can be legally termed as an act of genocide.

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