A desperate thirst

A desperate thirst


This shot is of a group of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants from a boat carrying 734 people rescued off Myanmar's southern coast last week. Those on board had been at sea for more than two months, at the end with little food or water.

The men in this photo were part of a group of about 400 crammed into a warehouse by Myanmar police. They had arrived the day before, but while the women, children and some men had already been moved, these men were left behind.

There was no sign of the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR or foreign aid agencies.

Just moments before this shot, the sky opened up and the monsoon rains started coming down. The men were jostling with each other for space to catch water in their bottles and plates.

. MAUNGDAW, Myanmar. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The authorities were hesitant to grant us access at first, but as the morning wore on and the rains started, we were able to enter the area around the warehouse and started photographing and speaking to migrants.

Just after taking this photo, the men were loaded into buses and trucks and driven to a camp where international aid agencies were waiting.

I have worked on long and difficult assignments where I have gone days without a proper shower. But for these people it has been months without enough water.

Everyone was dirty and had likely washed little while at sea.

I could see just how meaningful it was for them to suddenly have a chance to drink and clean themselves with whatever small amount of water they could capture.