‘Coming to Bangladesh Was Not a Choice but a Necessity’: 10 Stories from Rohingya
ICCO visited a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and spoke with some Rohingya people.
Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest nations, has seen a massive influx of Rohingya people fleeing violence and persecution in Myanmar. The violent conflict has escalated in Rakhine State in western Myanmar after violence erupted in the end of August. As of 21 Oct 2017, at least 815,000 Rohingyas are estimated to be sheltering in Bangladesh.
10 Impressive stories from Rohingya people
1- “I was scared of being raped and taken away”
Setara Begum (23) fled away from Myanmar and came to Bangladesh last month with her husband and one-year old son. Setara, while telling her story, said that she was most scared about being raped and taken away by the military there. She further added that her sister in law was taken by few men and never returned. Whenever she saw anyone in a uniform, she would grab her son and hold him as tightly as possible and recite prayers in the hope that maybe she will be spared this time.
2- “We want to return to our homeland, Myanmar”
“After my father was shot and our house was set on fire, we had nowhere to go. We lost everything” says Noor Begum (25). She came to Bangladesh in September with her mother, two sons and husband. She added “We collected some burnt rice from the sacks and during our four-day long walk from Myanmar to Bangladesh, all we could eat was the burnt rice. We want to return home if everything is settled and can be safe in our village”.
3- “It was tough for me to walk at night because of my poor eye-sight”
70 year-old Md. Omar has no vision in one of his eyes. He came to Bangladesh with 16 family members. After losing everything due to the fire that burnt their house, Omar and his family decided to travel to Bangladesh. “Mobility is difficult for me due to my disability. Yet, I had to walk all night with my family in order to get to safety” he says.
4- “I wanted to protect my daughter from the brutality”
40 year-old Khodeja said that she and her husband decided to flee to Bangladesh when they saw the military arrive to their neighborhood looking for young girls. She has 7 children and her eldest daughter is almost20 years old. ‘We only wanted to protect my family, specially my daughter from the brutality of those men” added Khodeja.
5- “Aasba has little hope to live”
Aasba (50) came to Bangladesh few weeks back. She has five children and lived in Busidong village in Rakhine. Her husband was a farmer and they had a decent life before the tragedy started. She burst into tears and told us that she and her husband were beaten badly by the Myanmar military and as such,they decided to flee to Bangladesh. After all that she has witnessed, she prays for the safety of her family and sleep without being afraid of being killed.
6- “Coming to Bangladesh was not a choice but a necessity”
‘I never wanted to leave my home back in Myanmar. I belong to Myanmar and I do not want to settle here in Bangladesh. This is not my motherland’ says 60-year old Hossain Ahmed. After his wife and elder son were killed in Rakhine, he fled to Bangladesh for the safety of his two songs, aged seven and four respectively.
7- “We came to Bangladesh to save our lives”
Khadeza (25) is the mother of four children and is in her six month of pregnancy now. When her house was set on fire and her father was killed, she and her husband decided to come to Bangladesh to save the rest of the family. However, this was not easy with four kids. They had to walk for 25 days feeding their children some fruits that were picked from the forests. Remaining of the time, they mostly starved. During the day, they would stop travelling and hide in the forests in fear of being seen. Now, she feels safe in Bangladesh.
8- “I did not have time to mourn my loss”
Hamida Begum (24) lived in Pumali, Myanmar with her husband, father and two children (2 and 3 years old respectively). She said she was shattered and terrified as her father and husband were killed in Myanmar by the military. ‘I did not have time to mourn my loss, all I was kept thinking about was how to save my children’ says Hamida. She then started off for Bangladesh, along with her neighbours and it took them 18 days to reach the border.
9- “Fayaz wants to live free”
9-year old Fayaz came to Bangladesh with his brother and two sisters. They walked for three days to reach Bangladesh. Fayaz’s father was very old and died from a chronic disease in 2016. Fayaz told us that his mother was shot dead by the Myanmar military in September. Fayaz is worried about everything that is happening back in his village. Fayaz does not want to be scared and hopes for a happy future with his siblings.
10- “Coming to Bangladesh sounded safe”
Hasina Begum (25) has three children and is expecting another one. Their house was set on fire in and they were confused about what to do and where to go with their small children. Then they saw their neighbors heading out for Bangladesh. The idea seemed safe; so she joined everyone and came to Bangladesh with her family.