SITTWE - Fleeing persecution at home, thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees are expecting looming death either by staying in unhealthy walled prison camps or facing dangers in rickety boats in their attempts to flee the southern Asian country.
"I cannot stay here in the camp, I must go," Mamuda, a Rohingya Muslim, told NBC news as she sat in a threadbare bamboo shelter, cradling her young children and watching her husband Nasir's body be prepared for burial.
"He came home with a bullet wound," said the 27-year-old, who plans to make the perilous more than 1,000-mile sea journey to Malaysia as soon as she can.
"He kept saying, 'It's too much pain, it's too much pain,' until he collapsed.
According to Mamuda, police shot Nasir after he and other Rohingyas tried to stop them from reaching the site of an earlier clash.
Mamuda and her family are among tens of thousands living in internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Burma after fleeing sectarian violence in their homes.
Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Burma's ethnic-Bengali Muslims, generally known as the Rohingya, are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee their homes after ethnic violence rocked the western state of Rakhine in July after the killing of ten Muslims in an attack by Buddhist vigilantes on their bus.
A Human Rights Watch report released in April alleged that the Rohingya had been the victims of "crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing."
Living in what they describe as prison camps, Rohingyas' refugee camps were made of a mix of tents and bamboo huts.
The summer rainy season, coupled with lack of medical care, has left some of the camps flooded and wracked by disease.
Many Rohingya have now been living in these camps for more than a year, with little to no access to health care, education or employment and their movement restricted by armed guards.
The case was not the same in neighboring IDP camps for Burma Buddhists.
A Rakhine Buddhist camp located closer to Sittwe was much closer to the city, where school and medical services are clearly provided. Their movement were not restricted either.
Death At Sea
Seeing no hope of change, more and more desperate residents were forced to consider dangerous boat journeys to Thailand or Malaysia.
"The living here is very dangerous and there's no future," said Aung Win, a Rohingya community leader who lives nearby and frequently visits the camps, where Dengue fever, tuberculosis and diarrhea are rife.
"The people are sick of the conditions."
Yet, some Rohingya Muslims were still dreaming of the day they might return to their homes and villages.
"If the government allowed us to go back to our old village, we'd go," said Mahmoud Hussein, a Rohingya boat driver who has lived in That Kay Bin camp since August 2012.
He also complained of the lack of employment and schooling for his children, and said that many of his neighbors had fallen ill.
"There's no business, there's no learning. If it continues like this in the future, it will be very bad," Hussein said.
"I think they will keep making the people stay here, and they'll die of diseases."
Hussein, who used to work for a Rakhine boat owner and would often eat dinner at his house, now lives in a 10 foot by 10 foot room, which he shares with nine other family members.
He said he plans to use his knowledge of the boat routes to flee as soon as the rains stop.
"I will go out to sea and go wherever Allah takes me," Hussein said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net