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Rohingya crisis: Expecting mothers, babies suffer most

Influx continues; fresh smoke bellowing in Rakhine

10 September 2017,Sunday, 19:20



AKM Moinuddin, UNB

An expecting mother has to endure various difficulties during her pregnancy even if one remains at her undisturbed home. This suffering becomes far more painful where there is persecution. Who knows it better than Rohingyas women who are delivering premature babies?
 
Hasina Begum, 24, who fled her village seeking safety in Bangladesh, had never thought she would have to deliver a premature baby being caught in a sudden attack launched by Myanmar security forces on their village in North Maungdaw og Rakhine State.
 
"I can't describe it to you. Your mother can feel the pain," Hasina told UNB hiding her face with her scarf and holding her newborn baby girl on her lap who did not get any chance to meet any doctor yet -- neither for herself nor her baby.
 
Hasina, now a mother of two daughters and one son, says Myanmar security forces and Buddhists came to their village- Merullah - on August 26 morning.
 
"I was running desperately once we heard gunshots. I ran almost half an hour and took shelter to a nearby house. My baby was born minutes after I reached the house," she narrated the painful experience she never had while delivering two of her son and daughter in the past.
 
She said she had gone through various complications after the delivery of her third baby.
 
"We haven't had a name for the girl yet. You better give one name," Hasina said giving her smiling look at the little child whose future looks uncertain with no shelter for them yet.
 
"We just arrived yesterday (Saturday) in a boat," Hasina said. "We aren’t alone. We’re around 50 people from the same village who entered Bangladesh in two boats."
 
Abdul Hamid, father of the newborn baby girl, said they had to pay money to those who helped them get enter Bangladesh. "The entire village was set on fire. We could bring nothing," Hamid said.
 
Responding to a question, he said, they have no plan to go back to their homeland as there is a fear of death. "It's pointless to try to go back there. Nothing is left. Even we might get killed," he said.
 
This correspondent saw a number of newborn babies, either born on the way to Bangladesh or in their villages before leaving for Bangladesh. Many babies are born after their mothers arrive in Bangladesh.
 
Influx Continues
 
The UNB correspondent saw around 500 new arrivals on Sunday morning who took shelter at Teknaf Upazila Awami League office and its surrounding places. "They came here on Saturday night and Sunday morning through Shah Porir Dip," said Abul Kashem, 50.
 
Khashem lost his son Mohammed Ibrahim who came under the line of fire during military attacks on August 28. "I ran away to save my life. I saw my 15-year-old son sustained bullet wounds. I was so cruel to run away leaving my son behind," he said showing his son's photo ID.
 
Khashem feared that his son might have succumbed to wounds. "I don't think I’ll get him back."
 
More people were seen coming on Sunday through various points in Teknaf.
 
"Our houses were torched. We had to wait for the last two nights to get a boat. Finally, we arrived here at 10am (Sunday) crossing the Naf," said Sayedul Amin who came from Shilkhali village of Maungdaw township.
 
While talking to this correspondent at Kanjapara point of Teknaf, he said they with two boats in groups - seven persons and 13 persons respectively.
 
"We came here a day before yesterday. Our village Shilkhali is now burning," Shahedur Rahman, 20, told UNB at Unchiprang point of Teknaf Upazila.
 
Smokes Again
 
On his way to Teknaf town, this correspondent saw huge smokes in at least four places in Myanmar side close to the border from 9am.
 
"Our village Shilkhali and adjacent villages are burning. It's North of Maungdaw township," Mohammed Tayeb, 20, said at Nayapara village of Teknaf.
 
Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Highway
 
Local authorities are struggling to manage traffic on Cox's Bazar-Teknaf highway, especially in Kutupalang and Balukhali areas where two big camps exists.
 
As the two camps went far beyond its capacities, new arrivals are crowding in roadside areas causing huge traffic congestions on the main road.
 
The movement of vehicles increased as many of those carrying relief materials are entering the areas from different parts of the country with regular aid vehicles.
 
Rohingyas were seen running behind relief laden vehicles mainly managed by individuals.
 
Call for More Help
 
Humanitarian agencies operating in Cox’s Bazar urgently need US$77 million to assist people who have fled violence in Rakhine as the Rohingya people in Cox's Bazar tripled in last two weeks.
 
Since 25 August, an estimated 300,000 people are believed to have crossed the border from Myanmar to Bangladesh.
 
The rapid movement of people across the border has put massive strain on the existing camps and settlements, and on the host communities who are supporting the new arrivals, said the UN office in Dhaka.
 
Though new settlements have formed and are expanding rapidly, people there have little access to basic services.
 
The Response Plan, developed as a result of the influx people to Cox’s Bazar, outlines the life-saving support UN agencies and international NGOs are aiming to provide 300,000 people until the end of 2017.
 
Efforts by the government of Bangladesh to meet the needs of those who have crossed to Cox’s Bazar are already being supported by humanitarian agencies that are providing shelter, health, water and sanitation, food, nutrition, and education assistance, as well as support to ensure the safety and dignity of new arrivals.
 
The $77 million requested by the new Plan will allow agencies to scale up their response to meet the rapidly growing needs of the new arrivals, said the UN.
 
The UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Robert Watkins, said, “With the movement of people showing no sign of stopping, it is vital that agencies working in Cox’s Bazar have the resources they need to provide emergency assistance to incredibly vulnerable people who have been forced to flee their homes and have arrived in Bangladesh with nothing.”
 
“Before this latest crisis agencies were already working on the ground, but the influx has overwhelmed the services that were in place. To support the new arrivals there is now an urgent need for 60,000 new shelters, as well as food, clean water and health services, including specialist mental health services and support for survivors of sexual violence.”

 

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