Another Rohingya child, 8-year-old Sara*, told Save the Children staff that she was trying to get to Malaysia by boat with her mother and 9-year-old brother. Sara’s* mother died on the boat, her body thrown into the sea in front of her children. The vessel was returned to Bangladesh and Sara* and her brother are now being looked after by their grandparents in a Cox’s Bazar camp. Sara* is receiving mental health support to help her cope with the trauma of losing her mother.
19-year-old Abdullah* told Save the Children he made the perilous journey by sea so he could find some work. After three unsuccessful attempts to reach Malaysia, his overcrowded boat started sailing towards Myanmar.
“We were hopeless. Because at that time we were already dying for food and water. We had no idea where we should go! Then the broker called us and said to head to Myanmar. We went there but we were turned away. After that we kept floating without any food or a drop of drinking water. Almost 60 days we kept floating. Then we were rescued by the Bangladeshi coast guard. Almost 80-90 people died due to hunger and from drinking ocean water.”
Having fled extreme violence in Myanmar, and the congested camps of Cox’s Bazar, hundreds of Rohingya children could still be stuck on overcrowded and dangerous vessels at sea, in a desperate bid to escape their living conditions and find a future for themselves. Recent media reports also suggest that the fear of COVID-19 and the associated quarantine could be pushing Rohingya refugees to flee from the camps in Bangladesh.