Last time this year, many were hiding in the jungles across the border, fleeing a military crackdown
Thousands of Rohingya refugees in the camps of Cox's Bazar spent their first Eid away from homes on Wednesday.
The day was spent in prayer and remembrance of loved ones lost. This time last year, they were fleeing the violence in Myanmar's Rakhine, running to Bangladesh for a safe haven. Many have lost someone, some have lost all. They came carrying what little they could, and some brought nothing but the shirts on their backs.
Eid-ul-Azha therefore, was a day of memories for the refugees. After the Eid prayers in the morning across the many mosques in the camps, most people broke into tears. Everyone prayed for safe return to their homes in Rakhine and lives of dignity.
Very few refugees received sacrificial meat, a key part of the Eid-ul-Azha observations.
Ayub Ali Majhi of Balukhali camp in Ukhiya said: “After the Eid prayers today, not just the imams, everyone broke into tears. We have lost so many people in Rakhine, parents, siblings, spouses.At least for their sake, something needs to be done.
“It has been almost a year since we came here. No international agency has been able to do anything towards our repatriation.”
Battali Rohingya Camp's Majhi (leader) Mohammad Idris said: “One person donated a small cow for sacrifice for two of the majhis. We got about 80kg of meat from it and distributed it among the 400 families in this camp.”
Mohammad Ismail, another majhi from the camp, said: “Last year we could not pray on Eid-ul-Azha. We were in the jungles in the hills of Rakhine. We did not get any sacrificial meat, but I am glad that I at least got to pray.”
Mohammad Lalu from Balukhali Camp said despite the persecution they faced in Rakhine, they still felt love for their homeland.
“We want to return safely. That is what we prayed for today. This confinement has become suffocating. We cannot take our children anywhere. There is no entertainment,” he said.
Khaleda Begum, from Madhurchhara camp, broke into tears recalling her flight from Rakhine.
“I lost my father during the flight. This is my first Eid without him, and so far away from home. Why is Allah so unfair to us?”
Abu Taher, a young man from Kutupalong camp, said: “We got some meat from Qurbani, but people in Camp 1 C block got nothing. No NGO or agency distributed meat there.”
It was a rainy morning on Wednesday and the Rohingya Muslims attended their Eid prayers in the cramped, small mosques and then sacrificed the few animals that had been donated for them.
Ukhiya Camp In-Charge Md Rezaul Karim said: “The organizations working in the camps were supposed to donate sacrificial animals in sufficient numbers. We were hoping that each family will get at least 2kg of meat. But the organizations could not make it in time.”
Ukhiya UNO Nikaruzzaman Chowdhury said the number of sacrificial animals was inadequate for the number of refugees.
“We tried our best to provide, but the various organizations working here failed to follow through,” he added.
Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain said: “We distributed meat among the refugees as much as possible. The district administration provided some and the NGOs working here provided more. But it was not sufficient.”