More than two months after the violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar erupted, over 605,000 refugees now live in makeshift shelters within the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
The elderly, pregnant women, lactating moms, and children are living in desperate living conditions as they carry with them horrific stories, loss, and pain while they struggle to survive in the camps. But for many refugees, it is so much safer than where they came from.
Makeshift shelters perched on once luscious green hills, creating living spaces for new arrivals. The increase in population in multiple sites is overloading existing facilities due to heavy use. As the camp is becoming congested, there is an urgency of disaster preparedness in the camp to mitigate the risk of landslides.
A boy points out to the area from where the elephants come into the camp. 20-year Shajida Begum lives in fear each night as recently the elephants wandered into the camp during twilight. Wild elephants killed 4 refugees, while they were asleep. The family of the diseased moved from the area.
"We are about to bury my nephew. He was just two-months old. We had given him a name. His mother is mentally distressed couldn't feed the child properly and the child didn't take to breast milk. The child didn't survive. There are many children buried here on this hill," says Mohd. Rashique.
"I lost my childhood friend, *Asif in this violence. We used to do many things together, study together and play together. He lived in another village. I remember the day we got the news that my friend’s village was being attacked. The villagers were called for a meeting, they didn’t know why and it was then the attack started. They were hiding in the paddy field waiting. Asif heard the news that his parents were shot and ran back to his village. I didn’t see him after that. Some people from his village who escaped later told me that Asif was killed too," says 17-year-old *Hussain.
“The men came into our house and dragged my husband and killed him. The women were crying out loud because their husbands were being killed. I was in shock and terrified. They came back again and three men forced themselves on me. There was bleeding and my body was sore. I was physically exhausted and my whole body in pain. The bleeding continued. It was only when I came to Bangladesh that I went to a local health checkpoint. After listening to my incident they gave me some medicine to stop the bleeding and to reduce the pain,” says Rajia.
"Everyone ran towards the forests to find refuge. I ran so did my wife, daughter carrying her youngest three month old. But the bullets got to them. The young ones 3-year-old *Raisan and 5-year-old *Faizal unaccompanied ran back to my house, searching for their grandparents," says Ali. When the attacker left the villagers returned in search of their loved ones. "When I went back I saw their bodies, my wife and my daughter just lay there lifeless. The house was completely burnt down and there I saw the charred bodies of my grandchildren. The men had found the children and hacked them. After ravaging thought the house they set the houses on fire," says Ali.
Muddy and murky water, within the Kutupalong refugee camp where children are often found bathing and women come to wash their clothes.
Swinging between two bamboo poles, shouldered by their relatives are the sick. Due to the muddy, slippery, narrow and rugged terrain it is difficult for ambulances to reach the camps.