There is no stopping baby Aysha from crying when she awakens and falls asleep again without being fed. Her mother Hafiza does not even get to eat one meal a day. Naturally, she is unable to provide her newborn with enough breast milk.
Hafiza said: “My daughter is crying for milk, but what can I do?”
The 20-year-old mother sat helpless inside a tiny makeshift tent at the Amtoli shelter in Ukhiya upazila.
Aysha was born just three days ago, last Wednesday, at the no man's land near Teknaf.
Hafiza and her husband Ali Johor managed to cross over into Bangladesh and find the shelter at Amtoli the next day, but they have had hardly anything to eat since then.
“Our lives were saved after coming here, but we don’t know how the life of our only child can be saved from hunger,” she cried out.
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Like Aysha, hundreds of Rohingya children are suffering from hunger at the makeshift shelters set up on the hill slopes of Amtoli.
On the run since the recent escalation of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, most of the refugees have failed to bring any provisions with them.
In fact, many of them have yet to find any shelter. They spend their days and nights under the open sky at many spots beside the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway.
Many of these families had to travel by foot for more than 10 days and have children who fell seriously ill on the way.
Mohammad Taha is one such child. The one-year-old has been suffering from pneumonia for the last seven days.
His mother, Chemon Ara, told the Dhaka Tribune: “I have been sitting inside the tent doing little else but holding my only son in my lap. My family members have taken food only twice in the last two days. How can I arrange for his treatment in such a condition?”
According to the UNHCR, at least 270,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the last two weeks. Of them, 80% are women and children.
UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan told the Dhaka Tribune: “Though we don’t have the head count, we think that the number of children among the refugees is huge. All of them are in danger because of lack of food, shelter and health support.”
Unicef Communication Manager Sakil Faizullah has said: “The volume of support is very scarce compared to what they need.”
“If we fail to provide them with adequate health and food support, there is a great possibility that we may have to deal with a health catastrophe in the entire area,” he added.