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Impressions from the Refugee Camps in Cox`s Bazar

Having now left Cox’s Bazar where refugee camps for the people of Rohingya are set up, I want to reflect on and share some of the things I witnessed during my visit.

First of all, I must say that being there was like nothing I’d experienced before. Though I was following the news ever since the crisis began, being there in person, feeling the pain and suffering is beyond explanation. I was left speechless the first moment I saw the sea of improvised shelters and tents extending as far as eyes can see. Almost one million people had to relocate in the harshest of conditions; often having to walk through jungle terrain day and night for well over a week to reach the camps in Bangladesh.

Careless, reckless, heartless

It was appalling to see all the ‘big’ aid organizations taking part in helping the people of Rohingya yet none of them being vocal enough of the tragedy happening. So few speak of the real scope of the genocide and ethnic cleansing that happened at the watch of the whole world. It’s real. More than 70,000 women are pregnant, many raped and many without a family… Thousands of people’s homes were burned down before their eyes. The cries of children, hopeless looks of men and women, and the fright in the eyes of the elderly… It’s all real. Everyone saw it, but the voice of the people of Rohingya cannot be heard.

I question myself. What would happen if 100 dogs were to be slaughtered, left to die in harsh conditions or simply mistreated. I’m sure activists would have flooded the streets calling for action, raising their voice or and campaigning to raise awareness. Don’t get me wrong, I am not undermining the rights of animals. But what about human rights? What have I done for the rights of the people here? What have we done when the lives of almost 1 million HUMAN BEINGS were left hanging? Many of us may have never even heard of the people of Rohingya, even today. Keeping silent is being complicit to the crime. Yet the voices of the people of Rohingya are still unheard and the damage done is irrevocable.

The children

Children were children. Smiling, playing and trying to be happy with what they had. What did they have? A football made of a tree bark, a stick with wheels on resembling a car… Sticks and stones is what they have and yet they smile and cheer you up. I think it was the first time I felt sad and sorrow when I saw a child smiling…

New hopes

Despite all, people in the camps look to the future with hope… Many have already gotten used to their new homes. Communities are starting to form with job opportunities created by organizations building shelters, schools and hospitals. Almost no one wants to return to the horror they experienced and we hope that they don’t have to. However, the work that needs to be done for these people will not suffice for a long time. Wounds are deep and healing takes time. Hope is there, and let there be a voice as well.

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