"NASHUA - For most Granite Staters, the "ethnic cleansing" against the minority Rohingyas in their native Myanmar is a horrific tragedy watched from afar in news accounts.
But for some of Nashua's newest residents, the trauma is deeply personal.
Najim Ullah, 23, fled to neighboring Bangladesh when his family's home in Myanmar, also known as Burma, was burned. "My whole family was trying to escape," he said through a translator.
"They're killing us, and we do not have any rights in my home country, so I decided to leave the country."
The family split up; Ullah learned years later his mother had died. His father disappeared; his siblings and other relatives still live in Myanmar.
"I walked for 15 days in the mountains and jungles with an empty stomach and no food," he said.
Ullah landed in a refugee camp in Bangladesh, where there wasn't enough food, water or sanitation for the huge number of people pouring in. He ended up in Sri Lanka, and was granted refugee status.
Ullah now lives in Nashua with two roommates who are also Rohingya. They work, take English lessons and worship at a local mosque.
The United Nations' top human rights official recently declared that Myanmar was carrying out "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" against Rohingya Muslims, citing accounts of killings, rapes and other atrocities.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), half a million Rohingyas have fled violence in Myanmar, the vast majority of them women, children and the elderly. It's the fastest-growing refugee emergency in the world today, according to UNHCR's website.
is director of Services for New Americans
at Ascentria Care Alliance in Concord, which resettles refugees fleeing conflict and oppression. In the last eight years, she said, 227 Rohingyas have been resettled in New Hampshire."
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