A Bleak Future
I was dropped off Obat alone by the roadside to the Obat guest house even as the medical coordinator had not been able to get in touch with anyone.
When I walked the long path and through the gate to the guest house, a man who spoke little English looked surprised when he saw me. Through his halting English I learned that everyone had left for the clinic in the Tom Tom. The two other men doctors from MedGlobal who were regulars in the Obat Clinic having told them they would be coming in the afternoon and would find their way there by themselves after running some errand forgetting that one of us might still need a ride.
After some to and fro, I was finally able to hitch a ride and arrived at the clinic at 11 am.
AF, a mother who lost her husband, had 2 children, 5 years and 15 months, she walked for 3 days to border and had been in the camp for 3 months. She bore hunger for three days as she and her children had little to eat.
HB, 17 yo woman, in camp for 2 months, had 7 family members. They took 30 days to come here: 15 days to an island where they were stranded till they had enough money for the river crossing, 7,000 Myanmar money per person. As much as we could gather, other refugees raised enough for their passage, they received food from WFP while on the island.
HaB, 25 yo woman, 3 months in camp with 2 boys and 5 girls, 15 days walking to border.
At the end of the day, a mother brought in her unconscious 18 month-old baby. After some intravenous fluid and oxygen, the mother and her brother walked with us for 20 minutes to a waiting van which took us to a MSF hospital where he was hospitalized. Unfortunately, he died the following day.
Many of the Rohingya women married young, some as young as 12 years of age and by age 25, they could have as many as 7 children. Almost all the Rohingya we asked do not know their date of birth including mothers of babies as young as one month of age. There were about 40,000 babies born in the camps in Bangladesh since the exodus. Would the Myanmar government recognize them as citizens if it does not now recognize their parents as rightful citizens?
At Obat many of the workers are Rohingya, children from the older waves of refugees and were born in the camp. They have never been in or seen Myanmar. In Bangladesh they are not allowed to go beyond secondary school, no opportunity to advance into universities. Job openings are scarce and absolutely no potential for advancement. Their future is bleak without further education.