Despite widespread use of the word Rohingya in the international community, the term is controversial within Burma. The Burmese government refuses to use the term, and considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They have been denied citizenship and numerous other rights since a controversial law was enacted in 1982.
Last year the Rohingya faced a sharp increase in state-sponsored violence in their homeland, which reached levels that led the United Nations to declare the crisis "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh, and are living in refugee camps, many of which are located in a swampy sort of "buffer zone" along the border between the two countries.
When asked, government officials were not able to provide the New York Times journalists an official death count, broken down by ethnicity, from the surges of violence last year.
In a 2017 trip to Bangladesh, Pope Francis met with a group of Rohingya and offered them his prayers and condolences for what they had endured.
"In the name of all who have persecuted you and persecute you, that have done you harm, above all, the world's indifference, I ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness," the Pope said in a Dec. 1, 2017 meeting with Rohingya.
After greeting them individually and hearing brief explanations of their stories, Pope Francis told them that "we are very close to you."
Although there's "little we can do because your tragedy is very hard and great," he told them "we give you space in the heart."
He explained that according to the Judeo-Christian tradition, God created man in his image and likeness.
"All of us are in this image, also these brothers and sisters, they too are in the image of God," he said.