Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
“Refugees didn’t just escape a place. They had to escape a thousand memories until they’d put enough time and distance between them and their misery to wake to a better day.”
There are about 1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Since the 1970s Rohingya refugees have been coming to Bangladesh from Myanmar.
Sharing Nine real life stories of ‘Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’
Featured first on my Facebook page: GMB Akash
My elderly mother cannot walk. I have carried her on my back for the past seven days. I had to carry her all the way. She lost weight and became lighter, but I became weaker after seven days of a desperate journey over muddy roads, through the jungle, crossing canals on foot.
We hadn’t eaten at all. I sometimes begged others with whom we fled for food, and they gave small portions of the little they had.
Some people carried rice with them, and mixed it with pond water and we were fed for a few days. But three days ago the rice was gone.
The Myanmar military killed my only brother, Azad, and set fire to our entire house. They took our cattle and everything we had.
I cannot carry my mother anymore. I am so tired now without food and water. We don’t know how long we will have to walk like this. I don’t know how long my mother will survive like this. I wish God would show his mercy upon us. – Rasid (25)
For the last seven days I have been moving with my children from one place to another. I was not able to feed them. Without food and water, they became ill and collapsed. Sometimes along the way, people would throw biscuits, but among such a crowd I was not able to catch them.
My son has had a fever for the last two nights. Before the fever he cried continuously, but now he neither cries, nor opens his eyes.
It rained heavily in the night. We were soaking wet. We had to sit in the water all night long. This is no place to be. _Raseda
My son, Sahed, continuously cries for milk, but I’m not able to breastfeed him. I have not eaten anything for three days. There is nothing coming from my breasts. I have survived only by drinking water from the roadside ponds.
I delivered my only child in the jungle three days ago. My contraction pains started while fleeing from our house. Shouting from the pain, I collapsed on the roadside. Three women who were also running came forward to help me. They covered me with banana leaves and helped me to give birth to my baby.
For the past two days we have been sitting in a rough, muddy road that runs through a rice field. We become wet from the rain and dry by the hot sun of the day. There are children and old people everywhere, screaming for food and water. There is nothing to eat. We’ve slept under the open sky for the last nine nights.
When our house was burned to ashes by the Myanmar military, I walked mile after mile with my nine-month pregnancy. Everything we carried was taken from us for the river crossing to Bangladesh. I lost track of my husband, Abdul Noor, when we fled. I have no idea if he is alive or not. Maybe he has already been killed by the Myanmar army and my son has already lost his father; just like he has lost his country. – Sajeda 25
The military came and burned our home. They burned everything. They killed my son and I lost my husband as we were fleeing. I came alone, traveling with others leaving their villages.
For the last seven days I have been walking day and night. I’m not able to move any longer. I am so tired, so exhausted! I have eaten nothing for the past two days, only drinking pond water.
We lost everything in Myanmar. I had gold and jewelry. We had domestic animals – six cows and ten goats. We had lots of chickens, but they were all burned when the military set fire to our house. I miss my son, my husband, our house, our animals, and the lives we had together. I have many wonderful memories.
If peace can be restored to Myanmar, and we can be safe and secure, my people will return. – Nuri Begum
We have nobody except God. I have been reciting the Quran the whole day after I left my country and I pray for my country and for my people. May Allah save us from this greatest misfortune. We did not want to leave our country. We loved our country and our country is like our mother. We had everything there. We had land; we had a fishing boat; we had cattle. We were happy!
But the Myanmar military killed my husband in front of us and I managed to escape with my two children in the middle of the night. I had no rice to eat for 5 days; my two children survived by eating leaves.
Life is not easy here in these makeshift camps; I need to wait in the line for hours under the hot sun for some relief food. But I feel safe here; my children can eat here. Thank you people of Bangladesh for saving our lives and giving us a shelter. _ Roksara 30
I want some food. I haven’t eaten anything since yesterday evening. The Myanmar military killed my only son Hossain, who was the only person in our family able to earn a living.
They burned our homes and seized our cows – and everything we had. I fled for my life, along with fellow villagers. I came to Bangladesh at night, after eight days of walking. I only had some rice and lentils. But that’s now gone and we’re surviving by begging on the roadside.
I’m still looking for somewhere we can stay. I have been moving from place to place. I heard there is a small hill. I could stay up there. But I have no money. I have nothing with me. I need everything – household materials, and plastic sheeting for making a makeshift shelter.
Our lives in Myanmar were decent. We had land for agriculture, cattle, a vegetable garden, and chickens. We were self-sufficient. Now we have nothing – only God. – Sohura Khatun
It was eight at night. My family was having dinner together when the Myanmar military suddenly came and set fire to our home. They killed my husband and they killed my brother. The soldiers tore my sister’s clothes off, put a dagger to her throat and started to rape her. After they raped my sister they set her body on fire. It was horrific and we deeply suffered. I have no idea how I managed to escape that night with my children. I carried one of my children on my back and another one on my chest. I am seven-months pregnant.
It was so painful to walk on the muddy roads. I walked with my children barefoot several days to reach the border with Bangladesh. There was no water and no food. I have no idea how I managed my children and myself along with my seven-month pregnancy. It was raining and the roads were slippery in between the rice fields. I collapsed several times from exhaustion and leg pain. Every day we got wet with rain and dried in the sun. For several days I wore the same dress and even could not bathe. I had to walk for miles and could never take a restful break!
I saw many women delivering their babies on the roadside in the middle of the night. They were helpless; they were sick; there was no help! There was no food for days. _Nesaru
I don’t know why they killed my little sister Yasmin. She was just one month old. What had she ever done wrong? She was on my lap when the military broke into our room, grabbed her from me and threw her into the fire.
The Myanmar military shot my mother and father in front of us. They had come into the village and started killing people, and then burnt our homes. We fled to the jungle, but the military came and found us so we had to flee again. It took us seven days to get here by walking.
Before coming here, my elder sister Sanoyara used to play. She was fine, but now sometimes she’s afraid the military will come and kill both of us! – Januka (10)
The whole day we sat waiting for help. Since morning it had been raining nonstop. Both my eleven-month old son, Anis, and I were soaked and he shivered from the cold. Every day I came and sat with my little son on the roadside. Sometimes people would stop in their cars and offer food or money. Food and money meant we would survive another week.
Myanmar soldiers had pulled my husband by the hair. He held tight to their feet, pleading for forgiveness. But they killed him, and then set his body aflame in front of us.
I hid myself and my boy in the chicken pen. From there, I watched the soldiers cut my husband’s throat with a knife. I held tight to my child’s eyes so he couldn’t see. I can’t remember when I fainted. When I awoke, everything was burned to ashes.
Early the next morning we managed to escape with others from the village. It took four days to reach the border of Bangladesh. I carried my son on my back. We walked without food. It was painful to carry him without having food or water. Sometimes we drank from ponds and the streams. We ate leaves from the trees. We slept under the open sky. It rained constantly and it was difficult walking without shoes.
When we reached the river, I gave my gold earrings and chain to the boatman. It took two days and nights to reach the other side. It was rainy and cold at night. We were 25 people in our boat and we held onto each other for protection. There was nothing to eat and the water was rough. My son’s face was pale and he was horrified! He was holding me tightly all the time. I thought I could not save my son; just as I was not able to save my husband. We felt we were dying that night! _Fatema 19
For the last couple of weeks I have been in the Rohingya refugee camps. I have gone from dwelling to dwelling helping mainly women with children, older women and children who lost their parents. Nine hundred families received much-needed cash from me and some of my Facebook friends who contributed to this humanitarian effort and who have my heartfelt thanks. All of the Rohingya people that we were able to help send their blessings and gratitude to us for our generosity and kindness. Love and light to all of you! -GMB Akash