Birth at graveyard

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Publication Date: 12 September, 2017
Media: The Independent 
Original Link: Birth at graveyard
E-paper Link: Birth at graveyard


Life begins at the place of death. A 22-year-old Rohingya refugee, Rehana Begum, gave birth to a child at a graveyard at Thangkhali of Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar after fleeing from her home at Buchidaung in Myanmar. The irony of Rehana’s fate has highlighted the severity of the humanitarian crisis in the neighbouring country’s Rakhine state brought about by the persecution of Rohingyas by Myanmarese authorities.

Recounting her ordeal to The Independent yesterday, Rehana said: “I decided to escape after the military killed my son Nurul Amin. I do not know where my other relatives are. I came here with some of my neighbours.”

The woman said she was among a group of 22 refugees who had sneaked into Bangladesh on Sunday after walking for eight days.

She started feeling labour pain when the group reached Thangkhali. An auto driver, Abul Kashem, took pity on the pregnant woman and rushed her to the nearest Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) hospital in Teknaf. However, the hospital authorities did not admit her due to lack of beds, said Kashem. Kashem then took Rehana to a nearby graveyard, where she delivered a son around 11.30 pm.

Afchhi Begum, another refugee among Rehana’s group, said: “The others in our group deserted Rehana when she started feeling ill. But I stayed with her.” Later, the auto driver arranged shelter for Rehana, her new-born baby and two-year-old son, along with Afchhi Begum, at the home of a local family in Teknaf.

But the refugee woman’s ordeal seems to be far from over. “I was forced to leave my home and my country to take shelter here. I don’t know from where I will go from here and how will I fend for my two children,” said an exhausted Rehana with tears rolling down her eyes.###



Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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