[Photo of the week] Arakan Muslims struggle to survive in camps

[Photo of the week] Arakan Muslims struggle to  survive in camps

Rohingya Muslims who have escaped a massacre in Myanmar and found shelter in Bangladesh are dependent on food aid and have called on international organizations for further assistance. (PHOTO SUNDAY’S ZAMAN, Mehmet Yaman)

August 05, 2012, Sunday/ 11:46:00

These Muslims from Myanmar’s Arakan province who have escaped the massacre in the country have taken shelter at camps in the border villages of Cox’s Bazaar District in Bangladesh and now struggle to survive the incessant rain in makeshift camps.

According to UN sources, since the beginning of ethno-religious tensions and attacks by extremist Buddhists and other fanatical groups that target Muslims in Myanmar, nearly 100,000 people have left their homes. To flee to safety, Rohingya Muslims, with children in their arms, walked barefoot in heavy rain through the jungle to reach the coast, from where they sailed to Bangladesh.

In the camps where Rohingya Muslims have taken refuge since 1993, people are dependent on food aid. Humanitarian aid organizations from Turkey have gone to the aid of the Muslims in the camps in Bangladesh. For example, a private Turkish charity, Kimse Yok Mu, distributes Ramadan provisions -- basic food items such as rice, sugar, oil and potatoes. The organization, which has had difficulty transporting aid packages to the region because of the extremely challenging nature of the area and the climate, aims to provide food aid to 15,000 people.

Taiba Aynun (50) fled to Bangladesh five months ago. “Myanmar is like hell. If you decide to go out into the street, then you risk being killed. They killed my husband and my brothers. I managed to flee, thanks to the help of my neighbors. Yet, here in Bangladesh, the government cannot take care of us any longer. We are stuck between the two countries now,” she said.

Muhammed Ekrem, a 35-year-old who fled Myanmar years ago, spoke about what he and other Rohingya Muslims in Arakan province have gone through. “Soldiers raided our houses in Myanmar and yet here floods raid our houses,” he said.

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