Myanmar refugee crisis: Kulsoma's story

Kulsoma lives in a makeshift shelter in Unchiprang refugee settlement in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh with her husband and five children.

Kulsoma lives in a makeshift shelter in Unchiprang refugee settlement in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh. She 30 years old, married and has five children. The family is seven of over 600,000 refugees who have been forced from their homes in Myanmar due to violence.

Kulsoma’s story in her own words

“After four girls, my husband and I wanted a boy so badly. We prayed and along came our boy - finally!

We spent nearly two weeks just sleeping on the road side, then we came here [to the camp] 15 days ago. Living on the road was hell. We had to desperately grasp for food whenever aid trucks stopped nearby, and I had to go out and beg with the children. But there were so many people in need, and so few people giving out money. We just slept where we sat, by the side of the road.

The Bangladesh border guards took pity on us, and they drove us here where we were able to build this shelter. I brought a tarpaulin from home. We were given it when our home was destroyed after a cyclone. It has been very useful. We got another plastic sheet when we arrived here, and we use that for the floor so we don’t have to lie on the mud.

I have a card now, so we can get food from the aid agencies. For me, not having any drinking water is the hardest thing. Though the heat is also unbearable. And we are all so dehydrated.

My husband fetches the water, as the lake where we collect it is very far away. Just now, we ran out and I had to use dirty water to wash and cook my rice. I don’t want my babies to eat brown rice - it isn’t healthy for them.

And of course, I am thinking of how dirty the water is and that it is going to make my children sick. All I can do is pray. All the family have had diarrhea since we arrived in Bangladesh.

And now we are running out of money, so we can’t supplement the rice we are given with vegetables and fish for much longer. So soon, all we will have is rice. My children will not grow up healthy on this diet, and this frightens me so much I cannot sleep at night.”


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