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A tale of fleeing Rohingyas

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11th-Sep-2017       
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UNB, Cox's Bazar :
For parents, there could be nothing more devastating than losing young sons and daughters as it represents the loss of all future hopes. It is more worrisome when it happens to a family fleeing persecution.
Dildar Begum, a 30-year-old woman is one of such mothers among thousands of Rohingyas who ended up in Bangladesh fleeing violence in Rakhine State.
"They (Myanmar forces and Buddhists) killed my two sons, husband and mother-in-law. It hurts us every moment," Begum told UNB sitting beside her 10-year-old daughter Noor Kalima at Cox's Bazar Sadar Hospital. Both suffered multiple injuries in their heads.
With grief and anguish, she said some Buddhists attacked her and her daughter with sharp knives after killing her two sons in presence of Myanmar security forces.
Begum, hailing from Boli Bazar in Maungdaw North, said she was not prepared to meet such a tragedy in any stage of life. The mother and daughter were admitted to the hospital on Friday, joining some other Rohingyas being treated there.
"We've lost everything...nothing is left. My house was burned down, forcing us to take a long painful journey to enter Bangladesh," Begum says.
On the same floor under Women and Children (Surgery Dept), Mohammed Haresh, a 13-month-old boy, was crying with 15 percent burn injuries.
"He is out of danger now," says an on-duty doctor who was struggling to deal with so many patients - both locals and Rohingyas.
Khurshida, mother of Haresh, said her husband Abdul Hamid is missing. "I don't know whether he is alive or not," said 30-year-old Khurshida, a mother of four daughters and three sons.
Aziza, another 11-year-old girl, is fighting for life with multiples bullet wounds in her chest, shoulder and right leg.
She arrived in Bangladesh on Thursday and was admitted to Cox's Bazar Sadar on Friday. "I suffered bullet wounds while taking a boat journey to enter Bangladesh through Naf," Aziza said.
An on-duty doctor at the hospital said they will decide whether Aziza will be shifted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital for better treatment. "It's a 250-bed hospital. Now we're dealing with over 500 patients. We aren't refusing any Rohingya patient," he said.
This correspondent saw many Rohingyas took shelter on both sides of the Cox's Bazar- Teknaf highway, especially from Ukhiya to Teknaf.
Many were seen cutting nearby hills to build shelters with bamboos and other materials.
Rohingyas in roadside areas were found desperate for food and shelters.
Desperate movements on highways put many Rohingyas children in risk of meeting road accidents.
Some wealthier people various parts of the country are providing food for hungry people on a limited scale from individual capacity.
Though many new shelters have so far been built cutting hills, still many people are living with any shelter.
Rains at regular intervals have also mounted their sufferings.
"This is the most devastating thing I've ever seen in my life," one 50-year-old man wishing to remain unnamed told UNB as he was distributing foods and clothes among the new arrivals.
"These people are exhausted. I just wonder how this brutality happens in this modern world," he added before leaving the spot quickly keeping hundreds more people behind him who were also seeking help.
Many trucks and jeeps laden with relief materials were seen heading towards camps but locals say these are inadequate given the growing number of new arrivals every day.
Amid a dramatic increase in the number of refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar's Northern Rakhine state, UNHCR on Friday called for urgent actions to address the root causes of the recent surge in violence.
The UNHCR sought urgent actions so that people are no longer compelled to flee and can eventually return home in safety and dignity. Over the last two weeks, according to the UNHCR, some 270,000 Rohingya refugees have sought safety in Bangladesh. But, locals say the number crossed 300,000.
This correspondent also visited zero point near Tombru in Ghumdhum under Bandarban district.
Some 14,000 people took shelter there and they are getting food and other services from Bangladesh side. "We're allowing them to come to our side to collect drinking water," said an on-duty BGB man.
After collecting they are going back other side of line drawn by a canal.
It was seen that limited shelter capacity in Kutupalang and Balukhali makeshift camp is already exhausted.
Refugees are now squatting in makeshift shelters that have mushroomed along the road and on available land in the Ukhiya and Teknaf areas.
While most of Rohingya refugees arrive on foot, mostly walking through the jungle and mountains for several days, thousands are braving long and risky voyages across the rough seas of the Bay of Bengal.
They wait on the Myanmar border to take fishing boats to Teknaf in Bangladesh. And most of them are women, including mothers with newborn babies, families with children.
They arrive in poor condition, exhausted, hungry and desperate for shelter.
"We remain concerned by continuing reports of civilians dying as they try to flee to safety," said UNHCR spokesperson Duniya Aslam Khan at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Friday.
The two refugee camps in Cox's Bazar in south-east Bangladesh - home to nearly 34,000 Rohingya refugees before this influx - are now bursting at the seams.
The population has more than doubled in two weeks, totaling more than 70,000. "There's an urgent need for more lands and shelters," said the Spokesperson.
UNHCR and their partners are working to provide protection and lifesaving support to the new arrivals in Kutupalong and Nayapara camps.
UN agencies and NGOs on the ground in Cox's Bazar are supporting the government to meet the needs of the new arrivals. They are providing emergency shelter, food, clean water, and nutritional  support.      

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