“We walked for days without food”: A Rohingya paddy farmer

“We walked for days without food”: A Rohingya paddy farmer

Story by : Disha Uppal
Written on : 12th October, 2017
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A paddy farmer from the Rakhine state recalls his journey to safety in Bangladesh

“I left my country because I had no choice. I had to save my family’s and my life,” said Sher Mohammad, who escaped violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar to reach Cox’s Bazar’s Jamtoli refugee camp. The 32-year-old paddy farmer walked for eight days along with his wife, three young kids and old parents. All he could bring with him was just a kilogram of rice. “Life was fine. Suddenly the violence erupted and everything was finished. My house was burned down. Initially, we were hiding in the paddy fields. But the soldiers came there and opened fire at us, shouting ‘go away from here and never ever try to come back or else you will be killed’. We ran to save our lives. My cousin and my neighbour died in the shooting,” he recalled.

As soon as he managed to cross the river Naaf, which flows between Bangladesh and Myanmar, he took a sigh of relief. “I thanked God for saving us. It’s hard to explain what we went through. We walked for days without food and even more painful was to see my old parents and my children starving,” he said.

Sher Mohammad with his parents and a kid

In Bangladesh, the initial support for Sher Mohammad came from the local community. “A man gave us 120 Taka (1.2 Euro) and a local relief organisation gave us some puffed rice. We had it immediately. We were so hungry.”

Sher Mohammad’s family now lives in a makeshift tent made of bamboos and plastic sheets. They share the tent with another family. They are surviving on the basic ration (rice, lentils, salt and oil) that they have received from the aid agencies. They do long for vegetables and fish but have no money to buy it. “We cook some rice and lentils in the morning and have it. At times twice a day, depending on the ration available.”

Thousands of tents have sprung up in the camps housing Rohingyas in Bangladesh

More than 500,000 people have fled their homes since August 25 to escape violence erupted in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Bangladesh, making it one of the fastest developing humanitarian crises the world has ever seen.

Welthungerhilfe, in collaboration with local partner Anando, has been working to provide support in the form of supplementary food packets and hygiene kits.

Emergency aid for Rohingyas in Bangladesh