> This elderly refugee is hearing news of his son for the first time in nearly a year, I'm happy to know my son is okay, he says. These messages, collected and delivered by the Red Cross, are a rare link between these Rohingya Muslims and their families, hundreds of miles away.
They're being carried between prisons in Myanmar's Rakhine state and refugee camps across the border in Bangladesh. According to the Red Cross, the refugees here have been desperate to hear from loved ones. After a military crackdown in Myanmar last year that left villages demolished, and thousands feared dead. Many of them had lost contact with family members and the Red Cross has been trying to close that communication gap.
Reuters' Zeba Siddiqui was in one of the camps in Bangladesh.>> When they receive a message for the first time, it's a very emotional response because many of these people didn't know if their relatives were alive or dead. Whether they were in prisons, or whether they survived and reached Bangladesh.
So they often tear up, the refugees told us that they were very happy to receive the message, that they would write back. I think one of the most interesting messages we got to see was a man imprisoned in Myanmar wrote to his wife who was living at the refugee camps with their children.
And he said, if you find a good match for our daughter please arrange her wedding, I give you permission.>> But other aren't as lucky, this woman's son has been missing for three months and she doesn't know where he is.>> It's not always good news that is delivered, some Red Cross volunteers told us they had to often inform people about their family members not being found or found dead.
And that's obviously very challenging news to convey to especially this population that has escaped after seeing so much violence back home.>> More than 1,600 notes have been gathered from the Bangladeshi camps. Only about 160 have been delivered to jails in Rakhine and their replies send back to Bangladesh.
Until they're about to meet face to face separated families here will be waiting for those letters as their first and sometimes only proof that their loved ones are alive.