Since late August over 436,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Bangladesh, escaping violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Up to 20,000 people continue to cross the border every day – each one an individual with their own story to tell. Here are two of them.

Mohamed’s story

Mohamed’s baby son doesn’t have a name yet, but he has already endured more than most people will in a lifetime. He was born as his family fled for their lives just over a fortnight ago.

“They burnt our house and drove us out by shooting,” says Mohamed.

After escaping from their village with little more than the clothes on their backs, Mohamed’s extended family followed other villagers making the long trek to the border.

“We walked for three days through the jungle. That’s where he was born,” says Mohamed, hugging the tiny newborn close. Far from the help of midwives, they were lucky that no complications arose.

The family waited another long night on the Myanmar border before taking a fishing boat to Bangladesh, braving a five-hour voyage through rough seas in the Bay of Bengal.

 

A family member holds Mohamed’s newborn son, who was born during the family’s flight from Myanmar to Bangladesh. ©UNHCR/ V. Tan

UNHCR’s two refugee camps in Bangladesh are now completely overcrowded and refugees are spilling out into makeshift sites along roadsides. ©UNHCR/A. Dean

They are among the thousands of Rohingya who have landed on the beaches of Teknaf in south-eastern Bangladesh since violence erupted in Myanmar on 25 August. The shoreline is studded with the curve-tailed fishing boats that have been transporting desperate refugees to safety.

The boats pull up close and drop their human cargo in waist-deep water. Exhausted after their long and bumpy journey, Mohamed and his family found one last burst of energy to wade to shore, their newest member held carefully above the waves by his father.

Aziza’s story

At the foot of the hills in Thangkali in south-eastern Bangladesh, 50-year-old Aziza rests her head on the shoulder of one of her teenage sons. She is one of hundreds of people sitting in the mud by the roadside.

“I had tarpaulins back at home but when the fighting started, I dropped them and ran,” says Aziza.

She recounts how her husband was shot when conflict erupted in their village in Rakhine state. She then reaches into her small bag and removes a photograph. She points to the man in the middle of the picture.

“I don’t know whether my husband is alive or dead,” she says.

 

Aziza’s hands delve into the small bag again, and she produces two battered documents. Pointing to the two identity cards, she says, “These are my parents.” Her sons are silent. They say that they doubt they will ever see their home again.

UNHCR teams in Bangladesh are working around the clock to ensure families like Mohamed’s and Aziza’s have shelter, food, water and medical care. UNHCR has mobilised several emergency airlifts to deliver more relief supplies, but with thousands of new arrivals every day, resources on the ground are being stretched to the limit.

Please make a donation today and help UNHCR provide urgent assistance to Rohingya families forced to flee their homes
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Having fled brutality in Myanmar, a Rohingya mother holds her baby outside her shelter at an informal settlement for new arrivals near Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh. ©UNHCR/A.Dean

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