Rohingya: Too scared and too poor to leave

07 Nov,2017


Dhaka, BdChronicle:

“We were too scared to leave our house.” Hasina held her crying baby close as she explained that it was for him she had feared the most.

Unsure whether her young child would make it to Bangladesh safely, she waited, frightened, in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine State, where, for two months, extreme violence had more or less confined the family to their rural home.

Hasina waited for a large group of people from their neighbourhood to leave with before embarking on the journey. She had thought that there might be safety in numbers, according to a story UNB received from IOM Dhaka office.

After 11 days of walking, the family finally made it to the border. It was three more days before they could leave the border area and walk towards the refugee settlements of Cox’s Bazar.

Hasina was one of some 6,000 Rohingya refugees to arrive in the Balukhali Makeshift Settlement over a four-day period starting on Thursday. Most walked for eight to ten days to reach the border with little food and water.

They then waited for three or four days on mud embankments between paddy fields before they could cross. Sleeping in the open, the family suffered under burning sun and monsoon rain.

When they crossed the border, IOM, UNHCR, Unicef and MSF provided water and emergency medical help, and identified unaccompanied children in need of protection. They also guided the refugees to Balukhali — another full day of walking.

Mohammed made the journey to Cox’s Bazar with all 11 members of his family. They walked for eight days and waited at the border for four.

“We came here to save our lives and we only want peace.”

He was unable to take his family out of Myanmar sooner as he needed to sell some grain to pay for the journey.

“We were not able to sell our land or animals, but we did sell some our crops.”

The money was all gone by the time Mohammed reached Cox’s Bazar. Most of it was spent paying someone to carry his sick, elderly mother. As soon as they crossed the border, she was brought to a hospital for treatment. She would later be reunited with her son and the family in Balukhali.

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