Rohingya: Chased from Myanmar, unwelcome in Bangladesh
‘I grabbed my children and ran towards the forest, and waited there with several hundred people.’
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – Ambia Khatun grabbed her two children and dashed out of her burning house on the early morning of November 23 last year. A teary-eyed Khatun said her husband could not make out of the house as the army started firing.
Thirty-seven-year-old Khatun is from Kearipara village in western Myanmar’s Maungdaw town. She says she fled along with other Rohingya families, leaving behind her husband’s body, as rows of houses were set on fire by the army.
Along with 2,500 Rohingya families, she has taken refuge at a makeshift camp in Leda at eastern Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar near the border with Myanmar.
“I grabbed my children and ran towards the forest and waited there with several hundred people,” she told Al Jazeera at her camp in Leda village.
World Food Programme and other local NGOs have come forward to provide food and emergency medical aid, as Bangladesh has refused to register Rohingya Muslims as refugees.
Nearly 65,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since October when the army launched a crackdown against the Muslim minority after a deadly attack on a military post.
Myanmar says it is acting against perpetrators of the attack, but rights group say the military has been running a systematic campaign of violence against Rohingya in western Rakhine state.
A traumatised Khatun says she never imagined that her family could be ruined in this way.
The camp at Leda looks cramped. The facility is squalid and lacks basic amenities. Children roam around the narrow rows of tin and bamboo huts. They lack access to education, medical care and sanitation.
Ziaur Rahman, a Rohingya rickshaw puller, said many people living in the camps have no money to spend. Rahman, who has been living in the area for the last 15 years, told Al Jazeera he chipped in with some money to help them survive.
Some Rohingya Muslims, who have money, rent space in nearby houses and some are building new houses, he said.