Stories

Fifteen-year-old Normeen and her mother Mahfuza remember the fear and intense heat as the first flames began engulfing the inside of their home.

They were in shock when they realised the house, which their family had built less than a year ago, had been set on fire.

“We saw the flames with our own eyes,” Normeen says.

“They set one side of the house alight and then we realised what had happened we ran out of the other side.”

Through the thick smoke that billowed out of the blazing house and the sound of gunfire, Normeen, Mahfuza, who was heavily pregnant, and her five other children ran as fast as they could, leaving their home and belongings behind.

Like the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya before them, Normeen and Mahfuza and their family began a terrifying journey towards neighbouring Bangladesh, to seek refuge from the violence and civil conflict in Myanmar.

More than 688,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 2017, and are now living in Cox’s Bazar, a fishing port in south Bangladesh.

Over the past six months, ChildFund has worked with partners in Bangladesh to provide emergency services and needs to more than 60,000 people, including Normeen and Mahfuza’s family, who have sought refuge in a “mega camp” in Cox’s Bazar.

More than 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in makeshift camps are facing the threat of mudslides and other severe weather risks as Bangladesh’s monsoon season approaches.

Monsoon rains are expected in June, adding additional hardships to the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees living in Cox’s Bazar on the south-east coast of Bangladesh.

These refugee camps have quickly become some of the largest in the world; and are not equipped to deal with the influx of refugees.

The lack of hygiene and sanitation has led to a rise in diseases, which can be fatal to vulnerable children.

Already, there have been 3,523 suspected cases of diphtheria, an infection of the nose and throat that’s easily preventable by a vaccine, but which has resulted in 30 recorded deaths in the camps.

There are serious concerns for the most vulnerable refugees, including elderly people and young children like Noor, who was just several days old when she arrived in Bangladesh.

Noor was born on a boat after her mother, Sakina, and her siblings fled violence in their village in Myanmar.