Bangladesh: A baby girl “born into suffering”

Maimuna’s three-day-old daughter, not yet named at the time this photo was taken

I cannot feed the baby at the moment. I am not producing milk. I have not eaten enough. We have been hungry for days.

No new mother should utter such words, but this was Maimuna’s reality when she gave birth in a refugee camp where food is scarce.

Maimuna is a 20-year-old refugee from Myanmar. Two years ago, she woke in the middle of the night to gunfire and the smell of her village burning. She and her family fled under the cover of darkness, abandoning their home in an instant. Then nine months pregnant, Maimuna walked for 20 days with blistered feet, sleeping in abandoned homes and scavenging rice to stay alive. She says:

We barely escaped with our lives. People who couldn’t leave were burned alive. I don’t know how many people died… so, so many.

When Maimuna and her family finally reached the refugee camp, Maimuna went into labour, crying out in pain. A man nearby gave up his shelter – a plastic sheet held up by sticks – for her to give birth. After 18 hours of painful, terrifying labour, Maimuna gave birth without a doctor present.

Maimuna’s mother worries about her daughter bringing up a child in a refugee camp with no resources, food, or access to education. She says:

What life will they have? This baby girl has been born into this suffering.

Since August 2017, more than 900,000 people from Myanmar have fled to Bangladesh after an escalation of violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. Around 80 percent of the refugees are women and children.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.