Deadline, Nov. 30, 40 points
What can we learn about the lives and challenges of refugees?
Do the following on a separate sheet of paper. You may work with a partner if you wish.
Is the assignment complete and the answers clear?
Is the assignment partially complete and the answers are somewhat clear?
Is the assignment generalluy incomplete and the answers are cofusing or missing?
Here are the refugee stories we used in class.
Ahmed’s Story, Syria
Ahmed survived the disaster, but he can’t find a reason for his life any more. He lost eight members of his family at sea, when on October 11, 2013 their boat sank shortly after it has left Libya and just over hundred kilometers away from the Maltese coast with hundreds of Syrian refugees on board. Three dozen people died in the tragedy.
Ahmed together with most of the survivors was taken to one of the refugee camps in Malta. It was there that I met him. The 67 years old man recalled the horrible day with a broken heart. He had organized the itinerary of his family’s flight well in advance from Syria. “Agents” helped them to reach Libya, and from there, according to the deal, Tunisian smugglers should have transported them to Malta. But they got into the hands of a gang of Somalis, Libyans and Tunisians instead. They were kept locked up in a stable on a farm until the departure, that is until the smugglers managed to collect the number of refugees they wanted. Nobody was allowed to leave the building even for a minute. Days were passing and the price of the journey settled in advance rose all the time. Those women who were unable to cover the ever increasing amount got raped by their keepers, while the men got tied up and tortured.
In the end, Ahmed and the members of his family paid USD 3,000 per person in order to get on board. As they entered the boat, however, suddenly some Libyan militiamen showed up and held guns to their heads. They demanded more money. As it turned out the militiamen had noticed, that there were more than 200 passengers on board which was more than double than the number the smugglers had agreed upon with them. The refugees emptied their pockets and put together further several thousands of dollars. But it did not help.
All of a sudden a ship emerged behind them with the militiamen on board and followed their boat for hours. They wanted to force it back to Libya. As these efforts failed, the gunmen started to shoot at the defenceless refugees and severely injured many of them. Soon the bullets punctured the boat, and it sank within minutes.
Sarjida’s Story: Fleeing by boat to Malaysia
After another bout of violence in October, many Rohingya – whom Myanmar does not recognise as citizens despite the fact they have lived in the country for generations – fled on flimsy wooden fishing boats. They headed for Malaysia, where tens of thousands of Rohingya have found refuge.
Sarjida, a 19-year-old from Maungdaw, spoke to Thomson Reuters Foundation about her experience from her new home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a dingy three-storey house she shares with other Rohingya families.
“I’m from a village called A Le Than Chaung in south Maungdaw. My parents are farmers. I’m the fifth child and the first daughter.
“We lost our home in the June violence. We built a shelter with whatever we could find because we didn’t get much help to rebuild our house. We didn’t even have blankets when the monsoon came.
“There was a troop of Nasaka [the border administration force – made up of the police, the military and customs and immigration officers – that once controlled every aspect of Rohingya life] near our village. After the violence, there were more soldiers in the area, the restrictions [on movement and jobs] worsened and the Nasaka started taking the men away. Some returned. Some didn’t.
“Parents started worrying what they would do to the girls so my family told me to leave. I’d never even been to the next village. This was the first time I’d left home and travelled alone.
“I was scared because I’d heard the boat trips were dangerous, but if I’d stayed in Myanmar, the situation could have got worse.
“I left Myanmar in April under the cover of darkness. The journey took 25 days. I travelled to a village about six miles away to get on a small boat. There were about 50 women and girls and about 20 men. We drifted for about five days because the boat didn’t start its engine. I think it was because our boat owner didn’t get a signal from the bigger boat.
“We were very tightly jammed in and had to squat on the boat for the whole trip. I had taken two pairs of clothes, lots of water and a little food, especially sour snacks to take when I felt dizzy on the boat.
“After five days, we met up with the bigger boat and were transferred onto it. There were more than 100 people on this boat. We were given a meal and a glass of water a day.
“The food wasn’t enough. People were getting very weak because of the lack of food and water. Some were becoming ill. I was seasick myself. I got dizzy and threw up numerous times. But nobody could help because everyone was unwell.
“There were strong winds too and I was really scared when the boat started rocking from side-to-side. But nobody died.
“We spent eight days on the big boat before reaching Thailand. I don’t know where exactly. We were put in a compound near the sea. I could see the hills too.
“The traffickers separated the men from the women. We (women) were put in a tarpaulin tent. It had a roof but no sides. They placed a sheet on the ground for us to sit on. I was treated well. The traffickers spoke Burmese so I think they must have been from Myanmar.
“We spent about five days there. We weren’t told why we were there. Then we had to walk towards a mountain and sleep overnight in the open. The next morning cars transported us to Malaysia. We arrived in Penang very early in the morning after another full day and night of travelling.
“A fellow villager I’d known for a while, who left for Malaysia about four years ago, picked me up and brought me to Kuala Lumpur. He also paid the brokers 300,000 kyats (over $300) for me to get to Thailand and 5,500 ringgit (about $1,750) to reach Malaysia. We got married a week after I arrived here.
“I feel better now that I’ve arrived here but I miss my family.
“If Myanmar is peaceful then I think I’d like to go back there because my childhood was peaceful.”
By Thomson Reuters Foundation Correspondent
Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Fri, 19 Jul 2013 05:15 GMT
At first glance, Mountaha’s life seems anything but lonely. She arrived in the UK in June 2017 with her husband and four children after fleeing Syria. Her father, sisters, brother and their families all managed to escape the conflict that is tearing apart their home country and live near-by in Birmingham.
Here is the link to the PowerPoint file we used in class.
Here is the link to the UNHCR office in Switerland.
Here is a link to the video about the smuggler's ship we watched in class.