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I Felt I Was Crossing No Man’s Land Carrying My Own Mother

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Abdul Aziz

A photo of a Border Guard Bangladesh personnel carrying an old Rohingya woman has gone viral on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter recently, bringing praises from national and international quarters.

BGB Major Ashikur Rahim carries an elderly woman from no man's land near Anjumpara border to a safe place after she fell to the ground

The incident took place on the morning of October 17, when several thousand Rohingyas, who took the long walk to Bangladesh to survive the persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state, were waiting at the no man's land near Anjumanpara border in Ukhiya's Palongkhali union under Cox's Bazar.

Several organizations and security agencies including Border Guard Bangladesh [BGB], International Organization for Migration, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner [UNHCR] for Refugees and MSF were stationed at the border area that morning to help the Rohingyas.

Maj Ashikur Rahim, also an additional director of BGB, saw an aid worker struggling to carry an old woman and offered to help. The Dhaka Tribune correspondent spoke with the major on Monday about the incident.

Ashikur said: "We hardly get to meet our parents and relatives as we work far away from our homes, performing our duties in different areas of the country. So, when we see an elderly person, it reminds us of our parents.

"The same happened that day too. If my mother was facing the same struggle, someone would have had helped. So remembering her, I helped the elderly woman, thinking someday my mother could be in the same situation too.

"We all know of the ongoing humanitarian disaster that is taking place in Myanmar and why all the people are coming to Bangladesh, walking for days. The elderly woman was not even able to walk properly that day and she was yet to cover many more miles."

"Recently we had a meeting with UNHCR where we decided to take the ill and elderly Rohingyas to the camp by cars. That day, I saw the woman walking towards the border and suddenly she fell to the ground. A UNHCR worker first came to her aid but then I saw he was struggling to carry her after a while. So I went to help the elderly mother and carried her for the rest of the distance."

Saying that his effort to carry the elderly mother to the border was not big of a deal, Maj Ashikur said: "We all have humanity and someone or the other has to come forward to help from a humanitarian point of view."

"When I was carrying her, I felt I was carrying my own mother across no man's land," he added.

More than 600,000 Rohingyas have crossed over to Bangladesh from Rakhine since the persecution and ethnic cleansing that started late August, according to UNHCR.

To tackle this influx at the border areas, the government has re-stationed many personnel from law enforcement agencies to Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox's Bazar. Additional Director of Sylhet BGB Major Ashikur was also re-stationed to Ukhiya on deputation.

Source: Dhaka Tribune, Edited by website team