Tom Stoddart

Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh

Tom visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where more than half-a-million people crossed the Myanmar border after unimaginable violence forced them to flee their homes.

These families are extremely vulnerable, having experienced severe trauma. Many left their homes with nothing and desperately need shelter, lighting and other essential items.

Tom said: ‘When I visited the camps, what’s striking is how much energy and hard work is going on, making a community. Everywhere you look people are doing something. They are building houses or walking for hours to collect wood. The inner strength of families there is incredible.’

Interview with Tom Stoddart


When 35-year-old Nur Jahan arrived at the Norwegian Red Cross and Bangladesh Red Crescent field hospital inside the camp, she was convinced her child was dead inside her. He had no obvious heartbeat, and she had not felt him move since she made her journey across the border from Myanmar weeks earlier.

Speaking of the moment he was born Nur said: ‘I was very grateful, if I had not come here then he would have died.’ 

On average, four out of ten Rohingya babies born in the IFRC field hospital survive, so it was no surprise to the midwives when Nur arrived expecting to give birth to a stillborn. ‘We assumed he was dead when we pulled him out we put him on his mother’s tummy. Then saw him move slightly and take a few tiny little breathes,’ said Ingeborg, the midwife who delivered Nur’s baby.

Although she was still in a lot of pain from the traumatic birth, Nur kept repeating, ‘thank you, thank you, I am happy.’

A smiling mother and her newborn baby


A young boy wrapped in a blanket high above a destoyed village

Hossion Juhar is 12-years-old. Wrapped in a bright red blanket, protecting himself from the early morning chill, he was out early in the morning playing with friends on a hill in Kutupalong when we met him.

When asked what he likes to do in the camp he said: ‘I go to the Madrassa (school) to study, and I walk around the camp with friends. We like to play football sometimes, I am very good.’

Hossion travelled from his village in the Rakhine State of Myanmar with ten family members including his mother and siblings.

His father died of ‘sickness’ a year earlier. ‘We left because they were killing all Rohingyas. We walked through the jungle for three days.


Supia Katun had been in the camp for a month when this photo was taken. She is unsure how old she is, but thinks around 70.

Supia had lived in the same village for her entire life, until she was forced out by violence. ‘Many people were killed, they shot at us, and so we had to leave,’ she said.

Supia’s family survived the violence, but their village was burned to the ground. Her nephews carried her for three days until they reached the border.

When asked about her life now, she said, ‘it is not so good, I am sick I am suffering, I’m in a pathetic situation.’

In Kutupalong camp, she lives in a shelter at the top of a hill overlooking a sea of thousands of shelters.

The area was built in August 2017 when more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims crossed the borders into Bangladesh from Myanmar, fleeing conflict and violence.

An old lady


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