Ottawa Red Cross workers mark two years of exile for Rohingya in Bangladesh

Two years after over half a million Rohingya refuges fled their homes to escape violence in Myanmar, an Ottawa Red Cross worker says the situation in the refugee camps in Bangladesh remains dire.

This weekend marks two years since hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar in what the the UN called a military-led campaign of violence and genocidal intent. 

The Rohingya Human Rights Network is planning a rally against the violence for "Rohingya Genocide Remembrance Day" on Parliament Hill at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Ottawa aid worker Norine Naguib said some of the more than 700,000 people who fled are still in the city of Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Without a promise of citizenship and safety in their home country, most of the refugees are too afraid to return. 

"They are coping but still dependent on humanitarian aid," Naguib told CBC Ottawa's In Town and Out. "What concerns them most, when the more urgent issues are addressed, is their future. What does the future hold?"

Speaking from Bangladesh, Naguib said the camps have come a long way. Roads and stairways have been built, she said, but it remains "sad" and "jarring" because of the sense of permanence that exists.

Her team with Red Cross provides primary health services and coordinates community centre activities and community outreach programs, Naguib said.

Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

"The ideal situation is that they are able to return home safely," she said. "We have to keep these people in our minds and our hearts, and it's a sad normalcy for them now [but] the services we provide are really truly critical."

Canada's House of Commons unanimously condemned the acts of the Myanmar military against Rohingya Muslims as an act of genocide last September.