A Rohingya refugee boy desperate for aid cries near the Balukhali refugee camp on Sept. 20, 2017, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. (Kevin Frayer)

Since Aug. 25, more than half a million Rohingya Muslims have fled a scorched-earth military campaign in Burma, often making a dangerous sea voyage to neighboring Bangladesh. There, they now live in vast, spontaneously built tent cities.

These photos by Getty Images photographer Kevin Frayer capture their harrowing journey.


TOP: A Rohingya woman is helped from a boat as she arrives exhausted on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River at Shah Porir Dwip after fleeing her village in Burma on Oct. 1. ABOVE: Members of a Rohingya family huddle together after disembarking from a boat on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River at night on Sept. 26.

TOP: A Rohingya woman is carried by relatives near the border on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River after fleeing Burma, on Oct. 2. ABOVE: Members of a Rohingya family carry their belongings on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Oct. 1.

Hatred toward the Rohingya minority is centuries-old in Burma. Years of violence culminated this year in the largest-known exodus of Rohingya. Thousands are believed to have been killed in their villages, and hundreds more drowned or starved while escaping.

The monsoon-drenched camps in Bangladesh will be their home for the foreseeable future.


TOP: Rohingya refugees walk in the sprawling and sodden Balukhali refugee camp Oct. 2.  ABOVE: A Rohingya woman holds her child as she stands outside her shelter.

TOP: A Rohingya girl wears a plastic bag as she walks in the monsoon rains at the Palongkali refugee camp on Sept. 19 in Bangladesh. ABOVE: A Rohingya woman uses a candle to light her tent at the Palongkali refugee camp on Oct. 1.

Makeshift shelters are seen at the sprawling Balukhali Rohingya refugee camp. (Kevin Frayer)

Life in the camps is entirely dependent on humanitarian aid provided by an array of organizations and governments. They provide food, water, health care, sanitation, as well as bamboo and tarpaulins to build shelters.

The rate of arrivals — often thousands or even tens of thousands in a day — has made it near-impossible for the aid effort to keep up.


TOP: Rohingya refugees build a mosque at the Balukhali refugee camp on Oct. 2. ABOVE: Refugees fetch water from a well at the Balukhali camp on Sept. 27. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

TOP: Malnourished and suffering from diarrhea, two children cry on the floor of a makeshift shelter at the Balukhali refugee camp on Sept. 27. ABOVE: A Rohingya man who was shot in the back by a Burmese soldier is helped by a relative after crossing the border to the Bangladesh side of the Naf River on Sept. 24.

Bangladeshi civil and religious organizations have stepped in to fill the void. Many here sympathize with the Rohingya not just for humanitarian reasons, but also as fellow Muslims who share other cultural and historical links. But their aid distribution is much more chaotic than the efforts of well-established agencies.

People are left to fight for scraps of food. Most of the time, it is the fiercest, not the hungriest, who prevail.


ABOVE: Refugees desperate for aid push forward as food is distributed by a local organization near the Balukhali refugee camp on Sept. 20.

TOP: An Islamic cleric leads prayers on Sept. 29 for 16 Rohingya refugees who died when their boat capsized while fleeing Burma. BOTTOM: Refugees pray Sept. 25 at the site where they are building a mosque in the Balukhali refugee camp.

TOP: A refugee washes at a well at the Palongkali camp on Sept. 26. ABOVE: Rohingya refugees walk through the paddy fields at the Palongkali refugee camp on Sept. 28.

Makeshift shelters cover the terrain at the Balukhali refugee camp on Oct. 2. (Kevin Frayer)

Read more: 

Under siege in their villages, Rohingya still in Burma say they’re trapped

How Bangladeshis are coping with half a million new Rohingya refugees