Tags / Detention Center
When we talk about the problems that face the world, we often discuss them in magnitude and numbers. We speak of millions displaced, hundreds of thousands dead, and many wounded.
However, what is often lost below the melee of statistics and news headlines are the stories of the individuals who endure these tragedies. Their personal experiences are what humanize all of the numbers and talking heads.
22-year-old Majd Bayoush was driven out of his hometown of Kafranbel, Syria by war. Desperate to start a new life abroad, he was smuggled to Europe via a long and dangerous underground railway.
He first travelled overland to Turkey, and then took a dangerously overloaded inflatable boat from Turkey to the Greek island of Samos. Once in Greece, he was registered with the Greek authorities and held in a migrant detention center.
After his release from the migrant detention center he began a perilous and exhausting overland journey from Greece to Germany. He trudged on foot over mountains and through forests in the bitter European cold.
Despite his tribulations, Majd was one of the lucky ones. He reached his destination of Hamburg…alive.
Majd’s story is just one of millions of stories about migrants risking their lives over sea and land to have a chance at a better life.
June 20th marks World Refugee Day. The commemoration is an opportunity to pause and consider that, with 50 million displaced people worldwide, today's refugee crisis is the biggest since World War 2.
Libyan coast guard vessels intercept a boat carrying 120 African migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and force it to return to the port of Tripoli.
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.
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]
Q: How long have you been here?
A: Just one week.
Q: One week?
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.
A: In the desert of Libya.
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?
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.”
Yop's life (random name), a Christian woman aged 45, changed when she refused the marriage proposal from a Muslim man working with her. Since that moment, he started threatening her and her family and he turned their lives into hell when she decided to marry another man. Thanks to his contacts, her harasser made her and her husband to be imprisoned and her nephew killed. The whole family left the country in December 2011 and traveled to Bangkok where they got the refugee status.
The iconic image of refugees that we usually have in mind is a row of tents in a sprawling emergency camp. But reality tells us that refugees are increasingly moving to large towns and cities. More than over half the world’s refugees live in large towns and cities where they suffer from harsh living conditions, with a lack of security and an increasing poverty.
Thailand is a hot spot for urban refugees. One of the reasons why the number keeps increasing is the relative easinness to enter the country. But the conditions of life awaiting them are far from the idilic idea that some displaced people may build in their minds. Urban refugees in Thailand face a harsh reality, without any legal right to work and a lack of access to basic services, such as healthcare and education.
Bangkok hosts around 2,600 refugees and asylum seekers from more than 40 countries. They hope to find a sense of community, safety and economic independence, but what they find is fear of detention and deportation, exploitation and abuse.
Among them, we find a specially vulnerable group: single-mother refugees who came to Thailand either with their family or alone. They are often denied the necessary legal rights to participate in the mainstream economy and are thus pushed underground, into informal jobs. There, they face extortion, exploitation, abuse (risk of sexual and gender-based violence) and arrest.
Abida, 53, belongs to the Ahmadiyya minority, an Islamic reformist movement persecuted in Pakistan. She left her country in 2009 with her three children after being attacked in their home-town, Gujrat. She is now waiting in Bangkok to travel to Canada, where she will be resettled.
Andrea (random name) was married with a member of the Intelligence Service of the Tamil guerrilla during the civil war in Sri Lanka. When the civil war finished in 2009 her family was targeted by the government and they fled after her husband disappeared. She lives in Bangkok with two of her three children. She has been rejected as refugee and she is preparing the appeal against the UNHCR decision.
Sania (random name), 33, left Pakistan in 2012, one year after the escape of her husband, a member of an opposition organization. She lives with her three children in Bangkok, while her husband is hold in an Immigration Detention Center located in the same city. Both have been recognized as refugees.da, where she will be resettled.
Rachel (random name) fled Sri Lanka in 2009 after being arrested by the authorities of her country for belonging to the Tamil community. She arrived first in Malaysia and traveled after to Bangkok, where she is waiting to get the refugee status. She has a 9 months old daughter who was born in Thailand.