AFPBALUKHALI, Bangladesh (AFP-Jiji) — Heavily pregnant Rohingya mother Rashida Khatun fled her home in a remote village in Myanmar’s Rakhine state two years ago, bone-tired but desperate to find a safe place to give birth.
After walking for hours with her husband and three children, Khatun took a treacherous sea journey in bad weather to reach the southeastern tip of Bangladesh.
The family took shelter beside a road and erected a makeshift roof with twigs and a polythene sheet.
Several hours later, Khatun gave birth to Ahmad Shah in the pouring rain, helped by other Rohingya women also sheltering nearby.
“I was so tired. Yet I wanted to give a safe birth to my unborn baby,” the 29-year-old mother told AFP.
“I thought he wouldn’t survive because we were getting drenched by the rain.”
Shah turned 2 on Sunday — the second anniversary of the mass exodus of some 740,000 Rohingya who fled a brutal military crackdown in western Myanmar and took refuge in vast, squalid camps in Bangladesh.
His birth, and his family’s ordeal, are a reminder of the struggles the stateless Muslim minority went through to flee their homeland.
Some 200,000 Rohingya took part in a rally at the world’s largest refugee settlement on Sunday to mark what the refugees describe as “Genocide Day.”
Shah’s father Mohammad Selim said his son was a miracle child.
“Allah saved my kid that night. All praise to him,” said Selim, an imam at a mosque at Balukhali refugee camp.
He said his other children still remembered the trauma of the perilous journey.