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Aceh: Migrants Find Shelter on Indone...
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
08 Jun 2015

Muslim Rohingya people fleeing persecution in Burma and Bangladeshis escaping poverty in their country have found welcoming shores in Aceh, North Indonesia, after gruesome and dangerous journeys in the sea at the hands of mafias of human trafficking. In early May, thousands of them found themselves at the centre of a regional emergency when Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia refused to accept them.

After Thailand cracked down on human trafficking networks who had been operating in the region for years, the traffickers abandoned the boats, leaving their victims adrift with virtually no food and water. The Rohingya and Bangladeshi have been paying human smugglers for years to take them to Malaysia. Many of these smugglers turned out to be traffickers who held their human cargo hostage in camps along the border between Thailand and Malaysia until their families paid ransoms of thousands of dollars.

On 20 May, Malaysia and Indonesia finally agreed to allow the boats ashore after pushing them back to the sea for two weeks. Before that, at a time when the policy of their governments was to deny entry to the Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants, fishermen form the province of Aceh, in Indonesia, rescued three boats carrying almost 2,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi people, defying the orders from the Indonesian Navy.

The Rohingya, widely regarded in Myanmar as Bangladeshi interlopers despite tracing their ancestry in the country for generations, were stripped of citizenship in 1982 and have lived under apartheid-like conditions ever since. Their situation worsened in 2012, when a wave of sectarian violence between the Rakhine Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority engulfed Rakhine State, leaving dozens of dead. The violence also left 140,000 internally displaced people, mostly Rohingya confined in overcrowded camps lacking the most basic facilities.

With scarce means of livelihood and virtually no access to health care or education, in recent years an increasing number of Rohingya have taken their chances embarking to Malaysia. Economic migrants from Bangladesh have increasingly joined the Rohingya. They are fleeing poverty in one of the most impoverished and overpopulated nations in Asia.

While the Bangladeshi migrants are certain that they will be repatriated at some point, and personnel from their embassy have already visited the camps to verify their identities, the future of the Rohingya is more uncertain. They can’t be sent back to their country and the process to resettle them in third countries might take years.

Nevertheless, the Acehnese population seems to have welcomed those who have arrived to their coast with open arms. Many Acehnese visit them to the camps and their donations are making sure there are no shortages of food, and some are lobbying to shelter the Rohingya refugees indefinitely in Aceh.

“I really wish they will stay permanently in Aceh. I have lobbied the Governor of Aceh on this matter, and will raise it with the head of the Senate,” said Rafly, a famous Acehnese singer and Senator.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

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Migrants in Indonesia 10
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
08 Jun 2015

Rohingya refugees, Bangladeshi migrants and aid workers pray together at Bayeun camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 8 June 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 17
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
07 Jun 2015

Bangladeshi migrant lies on the floor with fever at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 7 June 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 08
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
07 Jun 2015

Bangladeshi migrant at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 7 June 2015. Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi migrants are sheltered in separated compounds because there was a fight between both communities when they were stranded at sea in the same boat in which 100 people reportedly died.

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Migrants in Indonesia 11
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
05 Jun 2015

Rohingya woman prays at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 5 June 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 12
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
05 Jun 2015

A Rohingya girl looks at herself in the mirror after her mother has combed her hair at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 5 June 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 18
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
27 May 2015

Bangladeshi migrants at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 27 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 19
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
27 May 2015

Bangladeshi migrants at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 27 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 09
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
27 May 2015

Bangladeshi migrants at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 27 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 05
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
26 May 2015

Rohingya refugee at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 26 May 2015. This camp shelters 330 Rohingya refugees who arrived to the coasts of Aceh on 10th May. 190 Bangladeshi migrants who travelled in the same boat are now held in an immigration center waiting for their repatriation.

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Migrants in Indonesia 06
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
26 May 2015

A group of Rohingya refugees plays volleyball at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 26 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 07
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
26 May 2015

Two Rohingya women wash their clothes at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 26 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 16
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
25 May 2015

Rohingya girl plays at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 25 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 20
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
25 May 2015

Rohingya refugee eats at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 25 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 03
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
25 May 2015

A Rohingya refugee receives an injection against tetanus at Kuala Cangkoi camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 25 May 2015. Like many other women in the camp, she had never seen a syringe before. She was so terrified of the instrument that she had to be restrained by Acehnese medical personnel in order to administer the injection.

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Migrants in Indonesia 21
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
23 May 2015

Rohingya refugee sleeps at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 22
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
23 May 2015

A group of Rohingya women wait to get aid from the Taiwanese NGO Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation at Bayeun camp in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 01
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
23 May 2015

A group of Rohingya refugees take a rest at Kuala Langsa Port Camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23 May 2015. This camp shelters 231 Rohingya refugees from Burma and 425 migrants from Bangladesh who reached the Indonesian coast on 15th May after being rescued by Acehnese fishermen. While the migrants from Bangladesh will be repatriated to their country, the future of the Rohingya refugees is more uncertain, as the Burmese government doesn’t recognize them as citizens in their own country.

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Migrants in Indonesia 04
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
23 May 2015

A group of Rohingya refugees wait to get clothes donated by local people at Bayeun camp, in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 13
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
23 May 2015

A group of Rohingya women wait to get aid from the Taiwanese NGO Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation at Bayeun camp in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 14
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
23 May 2015

A Rohingya child sleeps in the floor at Bayeun camp in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 23 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 24
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
22 May 2015

Rohingya refugee at Bayeun camp in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 22 May 2015.

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Migrants in Indonesia 02
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
22 May 2015

Group of Rohingya women at the Bayeun Camp, in the outskirts of Langsa City, Aceh Province, Indonesia, 22 May 2015. This camp shelters341 Rohingya refugees from Burma and 92 migrants from Bangladesh who reached the Indonesian coast on 20th May after being rescued by Acehnese fishermen. While all Bangladeshi are men, there are many women and children among the Rohingya.

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Migrants in Indonesia 15
Aceh, Indonesia
By Carlos Sardiña Galache
22 May 2015

An Acehnese policeman gives candies to Rohingya children at Bayeun camp in Aceh Province, Indonesia, 22 May 2015.

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Europe-bound Migrants Held in Libyan ...
Misrata
By Mohamed Lagha
20 Apr 2015

Misrata, Libya
April 21, 2015

Dozens of men, women and children are held in deplorable conditions in a jail in Misrata, controlled by the security forces loyal to the Islamist Libyan government in Tripoli. The detainees who appear in this video, most of whom come from east African countries, were caught in Libya on their way to try to reach Europe. An office that controls immigration is deporting the detainees to their countries through their countries’ embassies in Tunisia. However, Somalian and Eritrean detainees cannot return because of the instability plaguing their countries. Some of them have been in this prison for five months.

An interviewed female detainee from Eritrea, who introduced herself as Yodit, said that she was arrested with her cousin and other immigrants in the Libyan desert as they were heading to Europe. The group had started their clandestine journey in Khartoum, Sudan. Yodit said that they spent one month on the road before being arrested. By the time of the interview, she had spent two weeks in custody and was worried that her family back home might think that she was dead. The woman, who appears to be in her twenties, also complained that the detention center is overcrowded and lacks proper ventilation.

Various shots of detainees.

TRANSCRIPT
Soundbite (Arabic/English, Woman) Yodit, Female Eritrean detainee

00:48 – 04:14

"Q: What is your name? [Arabic]

A: What? [Arabic]

Q: Your name. [Arabic]

A: Yodit.

Q: How long have you been here?

A: Just one week.

Q: One week?

A: Yeah.

Q: Where are you from?

A: From Eritrea.

Q: You came by… the desert?

A: Yeah, the desert.

Q: How exactly? Through which country?

A: By the Khartoum to the Libya desert. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] When [we] came here, they catch us.

Q: Where?

A: In the desert of Libya.

Q: Where?

A: In Libya, but the place exactly, what it’s called…. I don’t know.

Q: In the desert, or a gate?

A: Desert, desert.

Q: The desert?

A: Yeah.

Q: Is it near from here?

A: I think [it is] far.

Q: One hour? Two hours? How much time?

A: Four hours from here.

Q: And then what are you doing here? What did they tell you?

A: We want to travel to Europe. So they catch us, they arrest us… even before here, just one week another place, the place which kept us. We came also here one week. That means two weeks under arrest. So they… you see they are stand up all night here. The [UNINTELLIGIBLE] is bad It smells bad all night. There is no air. The place is bad, really. [UNINTELLIGIBLE]The condition is bad, seriously.

Q: What did they tell you? Did they tell you that they are going out? Did they call your embassy?

A: No. No phone. We families don’t know where we are.

Q: They didn’t call your families?

A: Yeah. Because we don’t have a phone here. So no one knows where they are. I don’t know. Maybe our families they think [we] die or something.

Q: You are here alone? You don’t have any family here?

A: She’s my cousin. So we are two.

Q: Now you are here for one week.

A: Here. But another place also one week. The way…. but one month is in the way in the desert. We are hungry, there is no water, there is no anything. We were about to die. But that is good, they save us and keep us here. But I don’t know [UNINTELLIGIBLE] about time I don’t know anything.

Q: Thank you.

A: You’re welcome. Thank you, too.”

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Migrant's Video Captures Perilous Med...
Mediterranean Sea
By mchreyteh
01 Sep 2014

The Mediterranean Sea
September 1, 2014

A Syrian refugee captures with his mobile phone a perilous clandestine journey to Europe and the hardship faced by the illegal migrants before they were rescued by a tanker.

It all starts with the refugees being herded into apartments, that the smuggler has rented, in a poor neighborhood of Alexandria. Walid (not the character’s real name), a 31-year-old from Homs, managed to get himself into Lebanon, from where he was able to board a flight to Cairo. Luckily he had a valid passport.

A few days later the smuggler gives the signal that it’s time to move. Under the cover of darkness, Walid and over one hundred refugees, from Syria and other countries, walk for two hours until they reach the seafront. They were divided into four small fishing boats and drove for five hours, before reaching two larger fishing boats onto which they were transferred.

The two boats sailed side-by-side for three days until they reached an old ferry. The 250 refugees, including many women and children, were told that this boat would take them to Italy. After four days at sea, they were running out of food and water. Some refugees got seasick.

Walid and other men confronted the captain after finding out that he was woefully inexperienced at driving a boat. He was relying on calls from the human trafficking gang, on his satellite phone, to give him directions. The satellite phone was broken in the fighting and the boat was then lost at sea.

It took the captain a day and a half to fix the satellite phone, by which time the refugees were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. At night they saw a light in the distance from a ship heading to Spain. This meant that they had still not reached Italian waters. As the two boats passed each other, the crew on the boat headed to Spain must have caught sight of the refugees because they called the International Red Cross who told them to give the refugees water and food. After doing this the boat sailed on.

In the morning the boat with refugees set sail again but a storm broke. One of the engines broke down and people started panicking and screaming. They saw a large boat and started trying to call it over with a torch signal. After about three hours the crew of the large boat decided to take the refugees to Sicily where the Italian authorities conducted physical examinations, and separated them according to nationality.