Rohingya plight through the eyes of the children

Amid displacement, trauma in refugee camps, Turkish humanitarian aid provides dose of comfort for persecuted Rohingya

Rohingya plight through the eyes of the children

World Bulletin / News Desk

Saddam Hossain’s days had been filled with his parents’ love and affection. He was studying at an Islamic school in Myanmar. He had many classmates and playmates. But then, a sudden disaster changed everything.

Saddam, a 10 years old boy said that his father was shot dead by Myanmar’s military.

“When my father was shot dead by the army, afterwards I fled with my mother, but I lost her at the border,” he said.

He crossed the border with other Rohingya Muslims fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh -- one of 421,000 Rohingya who have crossed from Myanmar’s western Rakhine state into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, according to the UN.

He now lives at the Nayapara refugee camp.

Saddam witnessed horrific scenes of the army hurling torches onto houses to burn them down.

According to satellite images, 214 villages in Rakhine have been largely destroyed over the last month, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

Saddam still seems to be in shock, as he has undergone major trauma.

He has not yet fully understood that something has gone seriously wrong. What he notices is that he is living with many fellow Rohingya in a very small room.

The refugees are fleeing a fresh security operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes, and torched Rohingya villages.

According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

 

- Families torn apart

Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.

The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel. Investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Karim Ullah, 10, is the eldest of a group of brothers and sisters who fled Myanmar.

His sister Ajida and brother Sadiq, both aged eight, fled the county with their grandmother Sayeeda Khatun, 70, and are now staying in a school at the Nayapara camp.

Karim Ullah says that after his father was shot dead and his mother was taken away, the group of children hid themselves in a jungle with their grandmother.

On the way to Bangladesh, he lost one of his brothers and they only reached this camp on Monday, he said.

His grandmother does not know what will happen to her grandchildren, and the children have yet to realize that their lives have entered a time of deep uncertainty.

Naim Ullah, eight, has two brothers and three sisters. Until recently they lived at Shilkali, Myanmar, and studied at a local Islamic school.

With their mother, they fled the violent crackdown in Myanmar. For the time being, they are at the Kutupalang camp in Bangladesh.

His father Badsha Mia, a fisherman, is still in Myanmar but, according to Naim Ullah, “brings daily necessities only at night” in his trawler.

Naim Ullah’s grandmother, Kulsum Khatun, 75, fled Myanmar for fear of her life.

However, the horrors she witnessed, being separated from her son and the rigors of the journey to Bangladesh proved too much and she passed away two days ago.

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2017, 13:17
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