Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

In Paula Bronstein’s photographs of the Rohingya exodus from Myanmar, there are no shoes. Men, women and children trudge wearily along the embankments of rice paddies, wade muddy rivers, or pick their way across flimsy bridges of lashed-together bamboo poles, all in their bare feet and carrying almost nothing but the occasional bundle of clothes, and their infants.

Bronstein, who has covered wars and refugees from Afghanistan to Sudan to Lesbos, Greece, has been photographing the Rohingya, an essentially stateless Muslim minority among the Buddhist majority in Myanmar, off and on for years. She was drawn back there after a clash with the Myanmar police in August touched off a swift and brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that in less than two months has driven more than a half-million people from their homes and villages to refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

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Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar walk along a muddy rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 9, 2017. Well over a half a million Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state causing a humanitarian crisis in the region with continued challenges for aid agencies. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A rainbow hovers above thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar are kept under a tight security by Bangladeshi military after crossing the border in a rice paddy field near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 16, 2017. A rainbow appeared after a brief rainstorm. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A Rohingya girl cries as refugees fleeing from Myanmar cross a stream in the hot sun on a muddy rice field near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 16, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

An elderly man who collapsed is carried to a medical facility as thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar sit along a muddy rice field after crossing the border near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 16, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Desperate Rohingya grab for aid handouts of clothing and food on September 15, 2017, in Tankhali, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees flee from Myanmar are kept under a tight security by Bangladeshi military after crossing the border in a rice paddy field near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 16, 2017. A rainbow appeared after a brief rainstorm. Well over a half a million Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state causing a humanitarian crisis in the region with continued challenges for aid agencies. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Rohingya women and children sit in a truck waiting to be transported from the border area to various camps on October 13, 2017, in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar cross a small stream in the hot sun on a muddy rice field on October 16, 2017 near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 16, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Vaccinators give the oral cholera vaccine to Rohingya October 11, in Thainkhali refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A massive cholera immunization campaign was started, led by the Ministry of Health and supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, to protect newly arrived Rohingya from cholera. Approximately 900,000 doses of the vaccine have been mobilized, delivered by more than 200 mobile vaccination teams, making it the second-largest oral cholera vaccination campaign ever. Well over a half a million Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state causing a humanitarian crisis in the region with continued challenges for aid agencies. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar walk along a muddy rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 9, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Rohingya Azida Begum, age 11, was shot twice under her arm and her leg by Burmese military, killing her mother as she was fleeing her village in Myanmar on October 10, 2017 in Palongkhali, Bangladesh. Azida now lives with her grandmother, her father having died years ago. Well over a half a million Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state causing a humanitarian crisis in the region with continued challenges for aid agencies. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar walk along a muddy rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 9, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

New Rohingya arrivals from Myanmar pack an overcrowded area trying to get some rest while they are waiting for shelter September 29 in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar are kept under a tight security by Bangladeshi military in hot sun near Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 16, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Rohingya desperately try to cross a river on a crowded makeshift bamboo bridge at Kutpalong camp on September 20, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/UNHCR)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing from Myanmar walk along a muddy rice field after crossing the border in Palang Khali, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 9, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Children wait for hot food given out by a Turkish aid group on October 13, 2017, at Palongkhali refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A Rohingya man carries his handicapped mother to her tent October 7, Thainkhali camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Children wait for hot food given out by a Turkish aid group on October 13, at Palongkhali refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

New arrivals rest after a long truck ride from the border without any knowledge of where to go next on October 5, 2017, in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Mumtaz Begum, 30, with bandages covering her wounds, is held by her daughter Rosia, 8, on October 15, standing outside their makeshift tent in Balukhali camp, Cox’s Bazar. Mumtaz arrived over a month ago from Myanmar. She suffered injuries after being attacked with a machete and was burned after Burmese military torched their house with everyone inside; she says that they locked the door, so she had to crawl out to escape to survive. She lost 6 member of her family, including 3 sons and 1 daughter. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Refugees shelter from a downpour as the monsoon rains create massive challenges for the displaced Rohingya on September 17 in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The family of four is still waiting for a tent. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Abu Siddique, 90, stands on a hill overlooking the Kutupalong refugee camp, as a rainbow covers the sky on September 22, 2017. He spent all of his savings to pay people to carry him across the Myanmar border to Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/UNHCR)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

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Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Madia Khatun, a relative, grieves next to the bodies of 5 children, after an overcrowded boat carrying Rohingya fleeing Myanmar capsized overnight killed around 12 people including five children on October 9, on Shah Porir Dwip Island, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Sajida Begum, 18, sits in her makeshift tent washing rice for dinner as smoke catches the late afternoon light on September 25, in Thainkhali camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A Rohingya boy cries as monsoon rains continue to batter the area causing more difficulties on October 7, Thainkhali camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Well over half a million Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state, causing a humanitarian crisis in the region with continued challenges for aid agencies. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Sameera, 20, looks out from a cement cylinder holding her 7 month old baby where the family are living until a shelter is built, on September 17, 2017, in Kutupalong, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A man hits anxious Rohingya children with a cane as things get out of control during a humanitarian aid distribution while monsoon rains continue to batter the area causing more difficulties on October 7, Thainkhali camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Fleeing violence in Myanmar, Rohingya families arrive at Kutupalong. A Rohingya woman holds a young child in her makeshift tent at Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh on September 20, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/UNHCR)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Patients wait for medical treatment in the urgent out patient waiting area at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 4, 2017 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Doctors Without Borders has been providing comprehensive basic healthcare services at their Kutupalong clinic since 2009. Due to the current Rohingya crisis, the clinic has expanded it’s inpatient capacity dealing with approximately 2,500 out patient treatments and around 1,000 emergency room patients per week. All healthcare services provided at the clinic are free of charge to both the Rohingya refugee population as well as local Bangladeshi patients. Doctors Without Borders has also set up a number of health posts, mobile clinics and water and sanitation services elsewhere in Cox’s Bazar to better respond to the influx. Well over a half a million Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since late August during the outbreak of violence in Rakhine state causing a humanitarian crisis in the region with continued challenges for aid agencies. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Kajal Nur, 11, is treated for injuries from a road traffic accident as her friend tries to comfort her at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 4, 2017 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Patients wait for medical treatment in the urgent outpatient waiting area at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 3, 2017, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A severely malnourished, premature 15 day old baby gets treated in the pediatric-neonatal unit at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 4, 2017, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Aneta Begum, 25, waits for treatment for a head injury in the emergency unit at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 4, 2017 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Patients wait for medical treatment in the urgent out patient waiting area at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 4, 2017, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Halima Khatu cries, worried about her son, Mohammed Harez, 8 months, suffering from acute pneumonia in the pediatric-neonatal unit at the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ Kutupalong clinic on October 3, 2017, in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

A Rohingya man holds his child as he looks at a rainbow on a hill overlooking the Kutupalong refugee camp on September 22, 2017. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/UNHCR)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Hundreds of Rohingya arrive by boats in the safety of darkness via the September 26, on Shah Porir Dwip island, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Escaping ethnic cleansing, the Rohingya of Myanmar flee to Bangladesh

Boats full of people continue to arrive along the shores of the Naf river as Rohingya refugees arrive in the safety of darkness September 27, 2017, on Shah Porir Dwip island, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. (Photograph by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)