Rohingya mother cradling dead baby offers sobering look into crisis
Warning: This post contains disturbing images.
Abdul Masood lived only to be five weeks old.
In a series of photographs, Hamida and her husband Nasir Ahmed, cradle and kiss the child’s lifeless body. Abdul drowned after a fishing boat the family was fleeing on capsized just before reaching the shore of Bangladesh’s village of Shah Porir Dwip.
Reuters photographer Mohammad Ponir Hossain, who captured the photos for the news agency, said he ran after hearing people yell that a boat had flipped over.
“I rushed to the spot and found people crying over the dead body of a child,” Ponir said.
The family’s story is one of thousands, as about 400,000 Rohingya Muslims have made the potentially deadly journey over to Bangladesh in the past month.
Travelling from Myanmar to southern Bangladesh requires refugees to walk long distances, or cross the Bay of Bengal using small (and often unstable) fishing boats.
Journalists have been documenting the exodus of the minority group from Myanmar amid violence. Rohingya Muslims arrive in foreign countries, recounting stories of burning villages, mass murders and violence against women and children.
WATCH: Amnesty International says satellite imagery shows burned Rohingya villages in Myanmar
Senior United Nations officials have described the violence as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
But once they arrive in Bangladesh, refugees still aren’t safe from the poor living conditions.
According to The Guardian, aid agencies helping refugees are overwhelmed by the needs. It reports that more than 400 babies have been born in the area between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the past 15 days. Some mothers have died in childbirth, while some newborns have died after not receiving proper health care.
Ottawa announced last week that it will provide $2.5 million in aid to Rohingya Muslims, and funds will be directed to help women and children displaced by the conflict, as part of the country’s Feminist International Assistance Policy.
WATCH: Calls growing for Canada to step up and help end the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority
“The support Canada is announcing today will help partners provide life-saving assistance to people fleeing violence,” Bibeau said in a press release.
“It will focus on sexual and reproductive health needs and help women and girls who have faced sexual and gender-based violence.”
The decision comes amid calls for Canada to take a stronger stance against the violence in the country, whose leader Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary Canadian citizen.
Over the weekend, several rallies were held across Canada — including one on Parliament Hill — pushing for the Canadian government to do more to help those affected.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland attended a rally in Toronto Saturday, telling the crowd that she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plan to focus on the issue during this week’s UN General Assembly in New York.
Meanwhile, the Myanmar leader has so far remained relatively mum on the situation but has claimed so-called fake news is exaggerating the violence.
Suu Kyi, who is also a Noble Peace Prize Winner, is expected to skip the UN General Assembly.
— With files from ReutersFollow @mahamabedi
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