Since ethnic violence erupted in Myanmar in late August, thousands of Rohingya cross the border into Bangladesh every week, often travelling for days or even weeks, trekking through forests and over mountains, with many making a hazardous river or sea crossing on the last leg of their epic journey.

Bangladeshi hospitals and international aid agencies are struggling to provide medical care for all the refugees, many of whom suffer horrific injuries and psychological trauma. Around 1,500 Rohingya have been treated for injuries including bullet wounds, broken bones, and cuts inflicted by knives or machetes, said residential medical officer Shaheen Abdur Rahman Chowdhury at Sadar Hospital in Cox's Bazar.

Injured Rohingya Muslims showed their wounds to Reuters photographer Jorge Silva as he visited refugee camps in Cox's Bazar.

Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Mohamed Heron, 6, and his brother Mohamed Akhter, 4, pose for a portrait to show burns on their bodies at Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Mohamed Heron, aged 6, and his four-year-old brother Akhter showed the burns on their arms and torsos that their uncle says resulted from Myanmar's armed forces firing rockets at their village. Two of their siblings, one seven years old and the other a 10-month-old infant, died in the attack, according to their uncle, Mohamed Inus. Their father was held by the military and has not been heard of since. "These two children survived when our village was fired on with rockets," Inus told Reuters at Kutupalong refugee camp.

Fleeing along with other villagers who abandoned their scorched homes, the boys reached Bangladesh after a three-day trek. At Kutupalong, they were treated for three weeks for their burns at a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) clinic.


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Setara Begum, 12, poses for a photograph at Nayapara refugee camp in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Setara Begum, 12, was among nine siblings in their home in Maungdaw when it was hit by a rocket. "I saved eight of my nine children from the burning house, but Setara was trapped inside," said her mother, Arafa. "I could see her crying in the middle of the fire, but it was difficult to save her. By the time we could reach her, she was badly burned," Arafa said.

Setara's father carried her for two days to Bangladesh. The young girl received no treatment for the severe burns to her feet. Her feet healed. But she has no toes. The trauma has scarred her psychologically. "She has been mute from that day, and doesn't speak to anyone," her mother said. "She only cries silently."


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Anwara Begum, 36, poses for a photograph at Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Anwara Begum, 36, said she woke to find her home in Maungdaw township, in the northernmost part of Rakhine state, in flames. Before she could get out the burning roof caved in on her and her nylon clothes melted onto her arms. Her husband carried her for eight days to reach the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh. "I thought I was going to die. I tried to stay alive for my children," she said, adding she was still waiting for treatment for her burns.


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Mohamed Jabair, 21, poses for a photograph to show burns on his body at Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Suffering burns to his limbs and torso, Mohamed Jabair, 21, had feared that he had also lost his sight in an explosion that ripped through his village home. Knocked unconscious and badly burned, Jabair was carried by his brother and others for four days to Cox's Bazar. "I was blind for many weeks and admitted to a government hospital in Cox's Bazar for 23 days. I was frightened that I would be blind forever," he said. Jabair said money sent by relatives in Malaysia had run out and he could no longer afford treatment.


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Nur Kamal, 17, poses for a photograph to show his head injuries, at Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Bowing to show deep cuts arcing across his scalp, 17-year-old Nur Kamal described how soldiers assaulted him after they found the young shopkeeper hiding in his home in Kan Hpu village in Maungdaw. "They hit me with a rifle butt on my head first and then with a knife," Kamal said. His uncle found him unconscious in a pool of blood. It took them two weeks to get to Bangladesh. "We want justice," Kamal said. "We want the international community to help us obtain justice."


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Imam Hossain, 42, sleeps on the ground at Kutupalong refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

His right arm swathed in bandages from the knuckles of his hand to well above the elbow, Imam Hossain, 42, lay exhausted on the roadside near the Kutupalong camp. He was returning home after teaching at a madrassa in his village when three men attacked him with knives. The next day, he made his wife and two children leave with other villagers fleeing to Bangladesh. He reached Cox's Bazar later. He was still searching for his family. "I want to ask the Myanmar government why they are harming the Rohingya," he said. "Why do Buddhists hate us? Why do you torture us? What is wrong with us?"


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Ansar Allah, 11, poses for a photograph at Leda refugee camp in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Curled up in a ball, 11-year-old Ansar Allah shows a large, livid scar on his right thigh - the result of a gunshot wound. "They sprayed us with bullets, as our house was burning," his mother Samara said. "It was a bullet half the size of my index finger," she said, before adding, "I can't stop thinking, why did God put us in that dangerous situation?"


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Kalabarow, 50, poses for a photograph at Leda refugee camp, in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Her husband, daughter and one son were killed when soldiers fired on Kalabarow's village in Maungdaw. The 50-year-old woman was hit in her right foot. For several hours, she lay where she fell, pretending to be dead, before a grandson found her. During their 11-day journey to Bangladesh, a village doctor amputated her infected foot and four men carried her on a stretcher made of bamboo and a bedsheet. "As we walked through the forest, we saw burnt villages and dead bodies. I thought we would never be safe," she said.


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Momtaz Begum, 30, poses for a photograph at Balukhali refugee camp in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Her face heavily bandaged, Momtaz Begum told how soldiers came to her village demanding valuables. "I told them I was poor and had nothing. One of them started beating me saying, 'If you have no money, then we will kill you'." After beating her, they locked her in her home and set fire to the roof. She escaped to find her three sons dead and her daughter beaten and bleeding.

Momtaz fled to Bangladesh, where she spent 20 days at the MSF clinic being treated for burns to her face and body. "What can I say about the future, if now we have no food, no house, no family. We cannot think about the future. They have killed that as well."


Rohingya Muslim refugee injuries
Abdu Rahaman, 73, poses for a photograph at Leda refugee camp in Bangladesh Jorge Silva/Reuters

Abdur Rahaman, a 73-year-old merchant from Maungdaw, was ambushed while walking on a mountain path with other refugees. A machete thrown at his feet severed three toes as he ran from his attackers. With his foot bleeding through a tourniquet made from his longyi, or sarong, Rahaman walked for two more hours, before his nephew and friends carried him across the border.

"Our future is not good," he said. "Allah must help us. The international community has to do something."


More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched what it described as "clearance operations"following a series of attacks by Rohingya militants on security posts in Rakhine state in late August. An Islamist insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, or ARSA, took responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in defence of Rohingya communities.

Human rights groups and advocates for the Rohingya say the army retaliated by burning down villages and shooting civilians. The government blames Rohingya insurgents for the violence, including the arson. Myanmar says its army is conducting clearance operations against "extremist terrorists" and that security forces have been told to protect civilians, but Rohingya arriving in Bangladesh say a campaign is under way to force them out.

Rights monitors and fleeing Rohingya say the army and Rakhine Buddhist vigilantes have mounted a campaign of arson aimed at driving out the Muslim population. The UN rights agency said it was "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing". Myanmar, an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, rejects the charge, saying its forces targeted insurgents of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, whom it has accused of setting fires and attacking civilians.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has warned of the extremely dangerous health conditions for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya living in camps around Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. A nutrition survey led by its partner Action Contre la Faim found that 40,000 Rohingya children face malnutrition and require life-saving assistance. Agencies reported that two-thirds of Cox's Bazar's water is contaminated with faeces.


Who are the Rohingya and why are they desperate to flee Myanmar?

The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in predominantly-Buddhist Myanmar, also known as Burma. They are concentrated in western Rakhine state, which is adjacent to Bangladesh. Their numbers have been estimated at about 1.1 million.

The UN says the Rohingya are one of the most persecuted groups in the world. Neither Bangladesh nor Myanmar recognises them as citizens. In Myanmar, even the name Rohingya is taboo. Myanmar officials refer to the group as "Bengalis" and insist they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, even though most have lived in the country for generations.

The Rohingya are effectively stateless. They have limited access to education or adequate health care and cannot move around freely. They have been attacked by the military and chased from their homes and land by extremist Buddhist mobs in a country that regards them as illegal settlers.

Longstanding tension between the Rohingya Muslims and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists erupted in bloody rioting in 2012 that killed nearly 200 people and displaced 140,000 – most of them into crowded camps just outside Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, where they live under abysmal, apartheid-like conditions, with little or no opportunities for work.