Skip to main content

Languages

 

Rohingya | One Year On_ON STEADY GROUND

 

 

Khadija Khatum knows what it’s like to live through a landslide.

From left, Nur Kalima, 10, her mother Khadija, 40, brother Saiful Hoque, 4, and grandmother Suvia Khatun, 60, pose for a photograph as they sit outside their shelter. ©UNHCR/David Azia

From left, Nur Kalima, 10, her mother Khadija, 40, brother Saiful Hoque, 4, and grandmother Suvia Khatun, 60, pose for a photograph as they sit outside their shelter. ©UNHCR/David Azia

 

In June 2018, at the height of southeastern Bangladesh’s monsoon season, Khadija and her family lost their shelter to a sudden landslide. Although none of her family members – her 60-year-old mother Suvia, 10-year-old daughter Nur Kalima and four-year-old son Saiful – were injured, they lost most of their scant belongings to the torrent of water and mud.

They were quickly taken in and given shelter by fellow Rohingya refugee families who lived nearby. Khadija, her mother and two children lived with these neighbours for almost a week, as the rains continued to fall.

It was the second time in less than a year that they had lost their house. Eleven months ago, Khadija was forced to flee with her family when armed forces attacked and burned her village, which was called Majipara.

“It took us 14 days to reach safety here in Bangladesh,” Khadija said. “Everywhere, there was beating, shooting and burning. We walked the whole way then crossed the river on a bamboo raft.

“When we arrived in this camp after our long journey, there was food, shelter and other care available,” she continued. “It was something I couldn’t have even imagined.”

And just like when Khadija’s family first arrived here in Kutupalong, UNHCR was there for them. Throughout this difficult time, UNHCR staff kept in close contact with Khadija and others affected by the landslide. One day, she received good news: UNHCR had built her family a new shelter in a safe, flat area of the Kutupalong settlement, and they would be relocated in the coming days.

When moving day came, Khadija’s family had plenty of help: 10 volunteers to help carry their remaining household belongings, and a vehicle to transport 60-year-old Suvia, who has difficulty walking long distances.

Over the course of the monsoon season, UNHCR and its partners have relocated more than 34,000 Rohingya refugee families, most of whom were living on precarious hillsides or other areas at risk from floods and landslides. These relocated families have also received sleeping mats, buckets, kitchen supplies and other items to help them settle into their new shelters.

“When we lived on the hillside, my children didn’t have space to play … Here, there are more opportunities, and they can make new friends.”

Khadija’s new “neighborhood,” officially called Camp 4 Extension, offers much more space, as well as improved water and sanitation facilities for families. There’s also some much-needed familiarity: nine families that lived near Khadija’s old shelter moved here at the same time. But, perhaps most importantly, Khadija feels that her family is finally safe.

“When we lived on the hillside, my children didn’t have space to play,” she said. “Here, there are more opportunities, and they can make new friends.” “Here, we can freely run and play,” agreed 10-year-old Nur Kalima.

“Here, we’re enjoying happy moments together.” Khadija has hopes that there will be changes and she will be able to return to peace and her own land in Myanmar. For now, she feels comfortable and secure.

“This shelter is constructed very well,” she explained. “I can sleep easier here.”