Zoe Corden from CAFOD’s Emergency Response Team has been in Cox’s Bazar supporting the emergency response. She shares the personal stories of Rohingya refugees forced to flee Myanmar, and now facing the upcoming monsoon season.
I met Solima when she was only 15 days old, and had known nothing but trauma in her short life. Wounded and hungry, she was held in her mother’s arms among hundreds of people sitting on the ground at the entry point to Bangladesh, just waiting in eerie silence.
Solima’s mother, Khodesha, gave birth to her in Myanmar. “Our house was burned,” said her father, Selim. “They took our land and cattle. We hid ourselves in the jungle. We have nothing left.” Eleven of their neighbours were killed, and every house destroyed, when their village in Myanmar’s Rakhine province was attacked.
Her parents waited until Solima was a week old before embarking with her and their three other children on the long, dangerous and exhausting journey to safety in Bangladesh. They were just the latest of 680,000 Rohingya refugees who have had to flee Myanmar since 25 August 2017, arriving with virtually nothing.
Tom Delamere is CAFOD’s Bangladesh Programme Officer. Here he tells us about his recent visits to Bangladesh, a country struggling to cope with the arrival of more than 582,000 refugees from Myanmar, on top of the devastating effects of recent flooding.
On landing in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s bustling capital city, two things immediately strike you. The first is the close, warm climate; growing up in the North of England didn’t really prepare me for South Asia’s summer temperatures. The second is just how busy the roads and streets are, ringing with vehicle horns, rickshaw bells and the movement of crowds of people.
Francis Atul Sarker is the executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, our local partner who is working around the clock to get emergency aid to the mainly Rohingya people, fleeing violence in neighbouring Myanmar. He gives this eyewitness account of life for the refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district.
When I think of the refugees that I visited in southern Bangladesh last week, I keep seeing a young girl with trauma written across her face. I asked where her parents were. She told me she was an orphan, being looked after by a neighbour from their village in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. It was heart-breaking.