The imposingly wide river Naf which separates Myanmar and Bangladesh was the final hurdle for another wave of increasingly desperate Rohingya refugees.
Nearly 200 people,many of them women and children, made their way to freedom,
paddling improvised rickety rafts kept afloat by empty plastic jerry cans,scavenged along the way as they fled the country.
Using homemade paddles and sheets of plastic, it was a long and slow crossing,some just paddled with their hands.
On the final half-mile, the rafts were intercepted by Bangladesh frontier guards.
These people are not welcome here.
And for an hour,the guards circled the rafts, trying to persuade them to turn back and pushing them up river.
The refugees ignored them and pushed onto the shoreline.
They’ve been traveling for weeks. And with landfall, a mixture of exhaustion and relief on the faces of those who reached safety,
traumatized by what they’d witnessed during the long march out of Myanmar.
For the children, still too young to comprehend that they may never return to their homes.
Each had their own story to tell.
We built this raft with plastic jerry cans that we found in burned down villages. We couldn’t manage boats as we couldn’t afford the rent.
Moreover, a few of our neighbors got robbed when they left the camps with the boat people.
They lost all their money and everything they had.
It took us three days to reach safety,one day to across the hill,one day to prepare the raft and a third day to row across the river.
These are just a handful of the hundreds of thousands to have sought refuge in Bangladesh,
many repeating stories of violence, rape and murder carried out on the refugees.
A senior UN official in Dhaka will raise the issue with the International Criminal Court this week,
whether Myanmar military can be held responsible.