DHAKA: Three years ago, Arifa Bibi would have had her hands full on Eid.
With hordes of relatives and friends thronging to her humble home in Rakhine province, Myanmar, she would be busy in the kitchen whipping up delicacies.
Little did she know then that she would one day find herself struggling to make ends meet as a Rohingya refugee at a makeshift camp in Bangladesh.
In the 34 camps at Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, hundreds of Rohingya remain stranded following a spate of violence in Myanmar. However, estrangement from their motherland fails to dampen their spirits on Eid.
Just a couple of days before Eid, the Rohingya were busy making preparations to celebrate the occasion.
Bangladesh’s government has allotted around 6,500 acres to establish the refugee camps, but space is still tight. “This refugee camp is highly congested and there is no open area available for Eid congregation. So, we have made preparations to offer the Eid prayers inside the mosque,” Abu Solaiman, a refugee from Balukhali camp, told Arab News.
There are more than 550,000 Rohingya children who are deprived of playgrounds and basic recreational pursuits for lack of space. Nevertheless, Rohingya children at Cox’s Bazar have figured out their own ways to turn Eid into a memorable occasion.
“On this Eid, there will be a fair inside the camps which has a merry-go-round and some other amusement materials for the kids,” Humayun Kabir, a Rohingya child at Kutupalang camp, told Arab News.
Halima Sheikh another refugee girl from the same camp, also expressed her excitement over the Eid fair.
“I have asked my father for some money for Eid shopping at the fair along with my friends. I plan to purchase cosmetics for me and my mother,” she said.
At the end of Ramadan, Rohingya women are now trying their best to prepare special dishes as a part of Eid tradition.
Different aid agencies have also come up with special offerings to make the festival a little more colorful to the Rohingya.
“We have provided a special Eid package which includes aromatic rice, lentils, milk, sugar, vermicelli, etc., to several hundred Rohingya families. We also received some Zakat funds from a nonresident Bangladeshi to run one of our health posts in the refugee camps,” said Nazrul Islam, country manager of UK-based aid agency Global One.
Another Bangladeshi aid agency, BRAC, has also provided food packages. “We have supported 2,500 Rohingya families with special food aid, including meat, oil and spices,” Khaled Morshed, head of the humanitarian response program at BRAC, told Arab News.
The authorities in Bangladesh have also beefed up security in and around the refugee camps to ensure peace during the festival.
“We have deployed around 1,100 police in and around the refugee camps to ensure round-the-clock vigilance,” Iqbal Hossain, additional superintendent of police at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.