DHAKA: “Last night I had only a small portion of vegetables and rice for my ‘sahri’ (meal before dawn),” said Abdul Latif, 45, a Rohingya refugee living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camp with his wife, three children and mother.
“I could not even provide a good meal for my 12-year-old son.”
Latif’s misery is commonplace in the refugee camps, where about 1.3 million Rohingyas are sheltering from the Myanmar army.
Recalling Ramadan in his homeland of Rakhine, on Myanmar’s western coast, Latif said: “I always managed decent meals for my six-member family while staying at my home. Ramadan is the most important month for us as Muslims.”
Latif, who was a prosperous farmer in Mongdu, gave charity every year during Ramadan.
Now, fate had left him relying on other people’s charity, he told Arab News.
“I am no better than a beggar here in Bangladesh,” he said.
Rohingya refugees have been barred from working, so are forced to rely on charities and aid.
Lack of food, austere living conditions and limited supplies of firewood have made it difficult for the Rohingya to observe the Muslim month of fasting as they did back home.
Marium, 35, could not find any food during her sahoor on the first day of Ramadan.
“Here we sqshave a grave scarcity of firewood. Most of the time, I cook only once a day and prepare enough rice for two meals a day,” she said.
But this summer she could not store the cooked rice for a long and had only a glass of water for her sahoor to start her fast.
Marium’s husband was shot and killed by Myanmar troops last September, forcing her to flee to Bangladesh with her two sons and a daughter.
“On last Eid-ul-Fitr, my husband bought new clothing for all the family. We even gave new clothes to the relatives,” she said.
Mohammad Bashar, 13, who lives with his family in a small makeshift house at Balukhali camp, said: “We had hot summers back home in Myanmar. I used to spend a long time in the pond with the cousins to escape the heat.”