On this World Refugee Day read some poems by refugee and humanitarian, Ro BM Hairu

Posted on: June 19, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians


On this World Refugee Day read some poems by refugee and humanitarian, Ro BM Hairu

Too many displaced
The news is stark. We learn from the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, that our global community has hit a depressing and historic number. There are now over 70.8 million children, women, and men who now are displaced from their homes due to war and persecusion. Over 1.2 million of those are refugees from Myanmar, victims of a government with questionable motives and methods. These refugees are victims twice over, harmed also by a failed humanitarian response.

World Refugee Day
On this World Refugee Day, below are some powerful poems from a refugee and humanitarian who fled Myanmar. The theme for this year’s World Refugee Day is #StepWithRefugees — Take A Step on World Refugee Day. As explained on the UNHCR web site:

“Around the world, communities, schools, businesses, faith groups and people from all walks of life are taking big and small steps in solidarity with refugees. This World Refugee Day, we challenge everyone to join together and take a step with refugees.”

All poems below are by Ro BM Hairu, a Rohingya refugee working as a humanitarian in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. By reading his poems your can -through his words and images- walk with a refugee. Ro says,

“I write my poems to let the world know that Rohingya community is a kind of community which has been facing several [types of] violence in our country, Myanmar. If people read my poems they will know completely about the Rohingya and what Rohingya need from the people of this world, like justice and protection [just] like the other humans need to survive.” 

When asked how he feels about being a humanitarian, Ro responded,

“I feel so glad being a humanitarian worker for this community.  When I help people, they make me so strong to help them more. You know, I’m just 22 years old,  but I always dream of helping innocent people who are suffering due to violence and war. I can help vulnerable people as I coordinated with NGOs to help them. I’m also refugee like them. We do care and support those who were faced violence such as war in Myanmar that’s why they fled to Bangladesh, including me. There came more orphans, widows and widowers in refugee camp who don’t have any helper to take care of their lives so that we are working for them in refugee camp as humanitarian worker.”


June 20, 2019
He writes this from the Rohingya Refugee Camp in Bangladesh.


Refugee Day Is For Me

Maker has blessed me a life
I was born in country
Where I didn’t get life security
Facing different kind of difficulties
I have fled to other land
My life transformed into refugee

Being refugee is like prisoner
As I live in the world
But the world is not for me
The more I try to feel peace,
The more I become in pain.

Just need your help
To be citizen of my native.
Just need your bond
To feel peace and justice.
Just need your support
To remove my trauma.

Then I will be able to breath peacefully
To restart my life again like you are.


More poems by Ro describing how it feels to be a refugee


Count Me in Human List

Some are doctors, some engineers
They can make their dreams come true
For me, no reality nor opportunity
My dreams sink in the ocean like a stone

Some can travel abroad, others visit to the moon
They have passports and authorisation
For me, no permission, always denied
My dreams burn in the bonfire like rubbish

Some are millionaires, some billionaires
They can spend their lives in luxury
For me, relying on rations and aids
My life spends in refugee camp like a prisoner

Some are PhD holders, some masters
They can make their future bright
For me, no school nor college
My future is dark like the cloudy sky

Count my name in human list,
My skin trembles for freedom
My blood pumps for justice
My heart excites for peace


The Killing Field

Arakan is made the killing field.
Non-stopped abuses and torturing
Women are made widows.
Kids are, orphans
The world is not strong enough to save us.

Arakan is made an open prison.
Non-stopped arresting and incarcerating
Old are shot and murdered
Young are tortured to dead in custody
The world keeps blind eyes for us.

Arakan is made the genocidal ground.
Non-stopped raping and molesting
Women are raped and slaughtered
Girls are molested and set on fire
The world is too deaf to hear our scream.

Our suffering are archived since 1978.
Yet we are being killed. What is humanity?
Where is human solidarity?
How many more of us have to be killed?
How long can the world keep looking?


Behind My Life

When I was in Myanmar,
I couldn’t travel from one place to another
There is movement restriction on us.

When I was in Myanmar,
I couldn’t worship going to the mosque
There is curfew order for us.

When I was in Myanmar,
I couldn’t study freely in Burmese school
There is discrimination for us.

When I was in Myanmar
I couldn’t play freely on ground
There is marching of Burmese soldiers.

When I was in Myanmar,
I couldn’t sleep at night
There is non-stopped firing.

When I was in Myanmar,
I couldn’t sow my farmland
They grab our land and give it to Natala

When I was in Myanmar,
I couldn’t sell shop in market

There is often looting.


Poet’s Note: Natala is modern Buddhist people brought from upper Myanmar to settle on Rohingya belonged land in Northern Rakhine State, Myanmar.


Gentle Movement

Since several decades, in my land,
Genocide like Tsunami striking
My ancestors, parents, relatives
Finally we have to face.
Losing thousands of lives
By legal gang stars with green uniforms
Still floating in my eyes , won’t sleep.

Because of shooting at old and young in line,
The green farm was red in color
Where no bird was above the sky
No limit in murder like picking up
The red roses in bloomed garden
Some corpses remained in skeleton
Like bare tree in hot summer .

Where the wounded crawled painfully
to hide their lives in sight of murderer, while crossing neighboring land,
some drowned into Naf river and some could save lives.
Remembering the trauma of past time made people sensitive in heart .


Opportunity Is The Same

Flowers are colourful,
Own natural beauty with several in shape
Outcome fragrantly,
Blooming in the air
Bees suck nectar for their hive
And benefiting from flowering plant
Give me freedom like a bee.

In other country, Publics are different skinned colour
Own folks and culture with different ethnicity,
Ideas, manners and communication are different
Governor rules them to be under control,
And educating them for living standard,
Give me independence like foreigners.

In my country,
All the populace are not similar in names
Like Burmese, Rakhine, Kachine and Rohingya
But we were born at the same place
We believe in Islam and they believe in Buddhism
But All belong in one human race
If they can enjoy human rights, why we can not?
Give me citizenship like them.
Thought I must need it to solve and get all.
If I’m in human list,
Why don’t I get it like others?
Why am I always in depression?
Why do I have to flee from my native?
Why do I have to survive to others land ?
Why do I become refugee?
Why doesn’t anyone think of me?

Is it all my fault or others who is responsible for these?


End thoughts
Explaining why he writes, Ro BM Hairu says further,

“I write the poems to express my feelings to others.  Although I can get depressed, writing makes me feel happy normally and also if someone is in it like me, they can also feel better by reading my poems.”

If you have read all of the poems above and considered their meanings, you must be struck. And your mind must be in pain with empathy, having walked with this refugee through words. So, on this World Refugee Day, let’s all redouble our efforts to work together to create a world where all humans can experience dignity. Ro provides a call to action in his poem (above) Refugee Day Is For Me. It says, in part,

Just need your help
To be citizen of my native.
Just need your bond
To feel peace and justice.
Just need your support
To remove my trauma.


Tom Arcaro

Tom Arcaro is a professor of sociology at Elon University. He has been researching and studying the humanitarian aid and development ecosystem for nearly two decades and in 2016 published 'Aid Worker Voices'. He recently published his second and third books related to the humanitarians sector with 'Confronting Toxic Othering' published in 2021 and 'Dispatches from the Margins of the Humanitarian Sector' in 2022. A revised second edition of 'Confronting Toxic Othering' is now available from Kendall Hunt Publishers

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