Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazaar: A refugee boy drowned today at about 8 a.m. in a local fishing dam outside of Kutupalong Official Camp. The dam was made by local villagers who went to the forest to collect firewood, said the mother of the victim.

The victim was identified as Mofizur Rahman (14), son of Abdu Malek, MRC # Z-225, and Shed #11, Block #A of Kutupalong Official Camp. Mofizur was a student of NSTE - A level of No. 7 school of Kutupalong Official Camp.

“The victim, accompanied by some other refugee boys and girls, went to the forest to collect firewood today, at about 8 a.m., as today is a holiday. On the way to forest, he had to cross a fishing dam, and when he reached the middle of the dam, he drowned as he was not able to swim. The other refugee boys and girls were not able to rescue him as they were too small. They informed the relatives of the victim, who rushed to the spot and found the boy’s body. Immediately, the victim was rushed to the Ministry of Health (MoH) clinic, where the doctor declared the boy dead,” said a refugee leader from the camp. 

“The victim’s mother, accompanied by her children, was repatriated to Burma on July 20, 1997, without her husband. She then came to Bangladesh again after one year. During the period of forced repatriation, refugees made an anti-repatriation campaign, and the father of the victim was hurt in his eyes and became blind. As a result, the victim’s father became disabled.”

“The victim’s family members are not fully registered refugees in the camp. But they have some family registration, and only get non-food items in the camp. They do not get rice. Therefore, the boy Mofizur Rahman tried very hard to support his family members. He was the only bread earner of his family.”

“The parents of the victim are now in terrible position,” said a refugee.

“Every day, the boy goes to school at 9 a.m. and a return to his family’s shed at 4 p.m. After arrival at the shed, he goes again to the forest to collect firewood to support his family members. After selling firewood at the market, he buys rice and other things for his family. He has six family members.”

Besides, whenever he had free time, he also went to the community center to learn sewing skills.

Today, in the evening, the victim will be buried in a nearby refugee cemetery, a relative of the victim said.