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Salama Begum (inset), Margot Wallström visiting Bangladesh's Kutupalong refugee camp (background)
Salama Begum (inset), Margot Wallström visiting Bangladesh's Kutupalong refugee camp (background). Credit: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP (background)

Swedish Rohingya helped family flee to Bangladesh

3:29 min

Salama Begum works at an elderly care home in Sorsele, a nine-hour drive north of Stockholm. Recently, she helped 32 family members flee what the UN is calling 'ethnic cleansing' in Burma.

Begum comes from the Burmese town of Maungdaw, but spent most of her life as a refugee in Bangladesh. Since 2008, she has been living with her husband and four children in north Sweden – one of just thirty-seven Swedish Rohingya families.

When violence against Rohingya intensified this autumn, her family was cast into extreme danger. Begum paid for her aunt, uncle and extended family to take a boat over to Bangladesh. Three young male cousins had to stay behind, as it was deemed too dangerous for them to travel.

Now, her family lives in Bangladesh's Kutupalong refugee camp, which Foreign Minister Margot Wallström visited last Sunday. They are dependent on food aid, and do not have adequate sanitary facilities. Begum sends them money each week. "I want us to live normal lives," she told Radio Sweden.

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