SHAMSUDDIN ILLIUS from Teknaf
Publication Date: 30 November, 2016 00:00 00 AM
The baby was 10 days old on November 11, when the Myanmarese military burnt down her family’s house, forcing her mother to flee into the nearby jungles in Borkogibi of Rakhine state of the neighbouring country.
Her father, Md Selim, the only earning member of the family, is still missing, as is her elder sister Tasmit Ara, one-and-a-half years old. After hiding in the Borkogibi jungles for a couple of days, during which time they starved, they came out of the jungles and went to Chhalipara.
After they got some food from a house, they stayed there for a day, and then went to Khearipara, and stayed for seven days in the jungle there. At around 12:20am yesterday, they hired a boat for Tk. 1,000 and crossed the Naf river from Totardwip of Myanmar.
Within just 10 minutes, they crossed the border and reached Whykong of Bangladesh, after a journey spanning 17 days in quest for a haven.
The mother of the baby, 23-year-old Sabekur Nahar, said she is yet to name her daughter. The baby’s father had planned to arrange a programme in the presence of relatives where they would have given a name to their daughter.
But the baby’s mother does not even know now whether her father and elder sister are alive. The woman married Selim just three years ago. She lost her brother-in-law Kamal Hossain, 16, and sister-in-law, Minara, on the day their home was torched by troops in Borkogibi.
In their escape, they were accompanied by the baby’s grandfather Younus Ahmed, 55, grandmother Chura Khatun, 45 and two uncles and an aunt.
“After losing our home and everything we had, we went into hiding in the jungles. After 17 days, we came to Bangladesh for shelter. On the way, we fasted most of the days. We ate our last meal three days ago,” Sabekur Nahar said.
“We are yet to give a name to the baby as we are waiting for her father. Now nothing can be done,” sighed Sabekur Nahar.
In the group of 14 people, another woman, Chenowara Begum, 25, a neighbour of Sabekur Naher, had also come with her one-year-old son, Arab. Her husband Abul Kalam and three-year-son Aros went missing the day on which troops burnt down their home. Nur Ahmed, 65, her father-in-law has also came with her.
She said, “After our house was burnt down and valuables looted, we left Myanmar with just a single set of clothes. We have nothing to eat or wear.”
At 2:30am, the group of 14—which included five children aged 27 days to four years—reached the unregistered Kutopalong Rohingya refugee camp. They claimed they did not have to pay anything to middlemen to cross the border.
Following an attack on a border outpost of the country’s Border Guard Police (BGP) on October 9, Myanmar’s military started a crackdown. As a result, the Rohingyas started fleeing to Bangladesh. They are infiltrating into Bangladesh almost everyday for a safe haven. Most of them have reportedly lost the young male members of their families while the young girls were often victims of rape.