Of an estimated 520,000 Rohingya who have fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh, one in 10 are pregnant or breastfeeding women, according to the United Nations. It’s a crisis within a crisis. Expecting mothers must march for days without food or water before making it to refugee camps where aid workers say that many have died from blood loss as most go through childbirth without medical help. One in five of recent Rohingya refugees suffers from severe malnourishment, according to the U.N. refugee agency, which only compounds the risk for expecting mothers and their children.
Hasina Aktar, a young mother, was carried by rickshaw as her pregnancy neared its full term through a vast refugee camp in Bangladesh that is now home to nearly a million Rohingya. Aktar, 20, is one of the lucky ones — she had access to a makeshift delivery clinic, complete with a single mattress on a lino floor, two nurses, and her 40-year-old mother-in-law Fatima, who stayed by her side and stroked her hair soothingly.
Aktar gave birth to a relatively healthy baby boy who weighs in just under 4 and half pounds. Hasina is allowed to stay overnight in the military tent, but by tomorrow she and her infant son, whom she named Mohammed, must return to their shelter in the camp.
France 24 spoke with Hasina’s mother-in-law Fatima about what was next for the young family — as well as the attack on their village that precipitated their journey into Bangladesh.
Read the full story at France 24.