COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Zobaer Ahmed Rana left his parents at the age of 6 and came to Bangladesh with his uncle in search of a better life.
But the Rohingya family was reunited this week as the remaining members fled the ongoing atrocities in Myanmar.
“I haven’t seen my son for 11 years. He’s a grownup now,” Rana’s mother Anowara Begum, who entered Bangladesh as a refugee four days ago, told Arab News.
“This is the first time I see my daughter-in-law. It’s a very happy moment for our family, but we can’t celebrate at this time of crisis.”
The family and 20,000 other refugees had to wait for four days at the border to enter Bangladesh.
The family got clearance from Bangladeshi authorities on Thursday to enter the Balukhali refugee camp in Ukhia Thana.
Recent drone footage from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows thousands of Rohingya refugees lined up for kilometers near the border.
The UNHCR has expressed grave concern over the condition of the stranded refugees, who have little to no food, water or shelter, and are weakened by days of travelling on foot.
“We’re advocating with the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees fleeing violence and increasingly difficult conditions back home. Every minute counts given the fragile condition they’re arriving in,” said UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic.
“They’re waiting for permission to move away from the border, where the sound of gunfire continues to be heard every night from the Myanmar side.”
Rana told Arab News: “My 25-member family started the journey toward Bangladesh on Oct. 9. It took them four days to reach the border, during which time I was in contact with them via a cellular phone.”
He visited his family the day they arrived at the camp, giving them dried food. He said no visitors were allowed on the second day, but on the third day he was able to give them rice.
Rana has been living with his uncle in Bangladesh’s port city of Chittagong since 2004. He completed his higher secondary education, and works as an assistant at a men’s hair salon.
Rana’s father Abu Toyob told Arab News: “We lived in Buthidaung town in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for many generations. I had a grocery shop in the local market and around 5 acres of land that I inherited from my father. But now I’m penniless and faced with uncertainty regarding my family of five sons and three daughters.”
Although the international community is urging Myanmar’s military to stop its abuses in Rakhine, there is no sign of improvement in the situation.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently reported that 582,000 Rohingya refugees have taken shelter in Bangladesh since the influx began on Aug. 25.
But unofficial sources put the figure at more than 600,000, and aid agencies are seeking more support from the international community to cope with increasing demand for humanitarian aid.