Since August 25, about 600,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed over into Bangladesh’s southeastern districts from Myanmar.
More than half are women, and 60 percent of these are girls under 18. They have faced a treacherous journey across the border, fleeing violence in northern Rakhine State in Myanmar.
The below story follows Laila, who is five months pregnant, and her two children. Laila arrived in Bangladesh in late September. She spent a night on an island, taking shelter in a local school, before travelling by boat to mainland Bangladesh, her fare paid by locals aiding the refugees.
Laila received food and a piece of tarpaulin before being transported to Balukhali camp, where she arrived after dark.
Laila, Abdul and Jida travelled on an overloaded boat to Teknaf, Bangladesh. ‘When we got into the boat, we were scared as water was getting in. I was scared that it would sink; people were crying. When I was in the boat, I was praying that I will reach the place safely.’ [Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Laila carries her son and daughter to the shore. Her husband went missing as she fled. ‘I don’t know if he is dead or alive … That makes me heartbroken.’ [Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Laila carries Abdul and Jida along the shore in Teknaf, Bangladesh. She recalls that once, ‘We were happy. Now, we are in this chaos. They are killing and burning houses; people are unable to stay there.’ [Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Laila holds Abdul as they wait. They did not bring anything with them. ‘With two children, and along with other people, we fled and came here. We didn’t even bring clothes. We couldn’t eat. If people gave us food, we ate; otherwise, we were hungry and thirsty.’ [Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Refugees climb into a truck at Shah Porir Dwip for the journey to Balukhali camp. [Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Laila and her children arrive at Balukhali camp late at night. ‘From the school, they put us in a truck. Then, we had to cross a lake. After that, they put us in another truck. Then, we spent a night in the open field beside the graveyard. After spending a night there, we came to the camp.’ [Tommy Trenchard/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Laila has a small shelter in the camp. To get water, they dig holes. ‘It is dirty. People go to the toilet here, but as we can’t live without water, so we are drinking it. It is very dirty water. It smells as we go outside. If was a proper latrine, it wouldn’t smell, but going outside like this it smells.’ [Bekki Frost/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Abdul sleeps at their small shelter in Balukhali camp. [Bekki Frost/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]
Laila is pictured with Abdul and Jida. ‘I have two small children and I am five months pregnant. The children are sick. I worry most about their food. My worry is, I can’t feed them, can’t give them medicine. I can’t send them to school. I want to give education to my children, that’s my hope.’ [Bekki Frost/Oxfam/Al Jazeera]