In the deep forests on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, several temporary shelters have sprung up, including Gundum Zero Point. Presently, Zakat Foundation of America aid workers are assisting the massive influx of Rohingya refugees with essential medicines and healthcare. The displaced include women and children, the elderly and orphans. Many are dealing with trauma after witnessing extreme acts of violence inflicted upon their villages. These are some of their stories.
Firoza, 18, spent her whole life in Myanmar. It was always home, despite the government labeling her ethnic community — Rohingya Muslims — as stateless. Things were never easy, but tensions escalated sharply in the 2012 riots. In the recent outbreak of violence, her home was burned to the ground by local residents, many of whom received support from the Myanmar army.
Firoza’s father was badly beaten and hospitalized. Her brother went missing, yet to be seen by any family members. There was no choice left but to flee. After walking for three straight days with no breaks, Firoza and her siblings arrived at Gundum Zero Point. She does not know the fates of her mother, father, or five other siblings. They have no means of communication.
Fatima, 40, also had her home destroyed by the army. Her family left their village in late August, right before the holy day of Eid al-Adha. Barefoot and dehydrated, they walked for hours. The safety of her family was her main concern. On their journey, they were confronted by soldiers, and in a brutal confrontation, she witnessed the murder of three of her children.
Minara, 25, and her husband fled from their village with nothing but the clothes on their backs. On the trek to Bangladesh, her son fell ill and suffered from a cold and high fever. He is currently being treated by Zakat Foundation of America aid workers.
Harun, 35, claims the army massacred nearly 300 residents of his village, including his brother. Not being able to withstand the severe torture and persecution, Harun’s family fled for Bangladesh. After 11 grueling days, they arrived at Gundum Zero Point.
“This has been the most catastrophic time of my life,” Harun says. He currently resides at a temporary shelter, but because he has no source of income to support his large family, he feels helpless.
Jamal, 30, was chased from his village by the army. The surrounding villages were also torched, reduced to nothing but darkened earth. Many Rohingya have reported that soldiers are placing mines around abandoned villages to ensure no one returns. When his children became extremely fatigued, he balanced them on a carrying pole all the way to the refugee camp.
We must stand up and demand justice for the Rohingya! Please spread awareness about the current humanitarian situation and contribute to our relief efforts at zakat.org!