Incredible Stories Of Refugees Fleeing Intense Violence In Myanmar

More than 400,000 people have reportedly fled for their lives from Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh, and each one has their own heart-wrenching story to tell.

In the week I was in Bangladesh I met countless families, whilst assessing the need on the ground and seeing how Islamic Relief could help.

Caption: Imran Madden at the southernmost city of Teknaf, along the Naf River, where a dozen narrow wooden boats were collecting refugees from a river island where they had fled by night and dropping them on the Bangladesh side of the river.

One of the first people I spoke to was Mohammad Rafiq. He was crossing into Bangladesh with his wife Nuru, and their four children.

We caught up with Muhammad at a river crossing that was the second step on their journey through the border area. He was joined by several members of his village and they remained together as a means of mutual support.

Caption: Muhammad’s youngest son, Noyum, who he holds closely in his arms, had fever and needed immediate medical attention.

Muhammad held his young son, Noyum, closely in his arms. Noyum had a fever and seemed semi-conscious, calling constantly to his parents.

Muhammad told me, “We left in the middle of the night. We had time only to grab our children. We left everything behind...”

He needed to complete the next part of his journey quickly as his son required immediate attention. However, Noyum has to compete with hundreds of others at this crossing, all of whom have similar needs and stories.

I cannot help but wonder whether two-year-old Noyum received the urgent medical treatment he needed.

Caption: Najmul Haq fled Myanmar, arriving in Bangladesh with 13 members of his family on 6 September.

On my second day in Bangladesh, our team visited Poschim Kul village, where I met Najmul Haq.

Najmul’s home is now a makeshift camp on top of a hill, a stone’s throw away from the border.

What was once a lush hillside has been cleared for a settlement.

The huts are constructed from plastic sheeting and locally-cut bamboo, demonstrating the refugees’ incredible ingenuity, but their resources will not last long. There are no latrines and a single water pump serves hundreds of people.

Speaking to Najmul was excruciatingly painful. He said: “We had land, cattle and poultry but had to leave it all behind. Yesterday, I tried to cross back into Myanmar to retrieve some of my animals but I was forced back by the border guards. I am not comfortable here but I know I will not be safe if I return. In the end, if Allah wants me to die, I will die.”

Caption: Soydul Amin clears the hillside with family members to build a shelter for his family and other refugees.

The refugees I met in Bangladesh all showed incredible resilience, but they still need help.

At a refugee camp called Tayum Kali, roughly 4km from the Myanmar border, I met Soydul Amin who had arrived in Bangladesh on 12 September with five family members.