According to the UN, in the first three months of this year, an estimated 25,000 people left Myanmar and poverty-stricken Bangladesh in boats operated by smugglers. Thousands are currently thought to be stranded at sea, including Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar, a country that has endured devastating inter-communal violence.

Many facing the perilous journey – during which they are at risk of being exploited, abused and abandoned by their traffickers – are women and children. Some 1,662 people have reached Indonesia’s Aceh province, where they are now living in four temporary facilities awaiting a decision regarding their futures.

“We want peace, freedom and justice”

Rosida Bagom with her son and younger brother.

“Before this tragedy [in Myanmar], our life was joyful and secure,” said Rosida Bagom, 20, who fled Myanmar with her family. Her father and her husband, Er Hasan, are now working in Malaysia whilst Rosida, her two-year old son and teenaged brother live in a migrant shelter in North Aceh.

“We got separated by distance and time. We lost our happiness and time together as a family. Generally, the Rohingya women and men here are in the same situation as myself. My hope for the future is quite simple. I want to reunite with my father and my husband. I want to raise our son properly, with love and protection. We want peace, freedom, and justice as much as everybody else does.

“There are no rooms solely built for a family at the moment,” she said, describing the migrants shelter in Blang Ado village. “We still sleep and live in group in a single-roomed shelter, which has a brickwall and metal roofing. We need a more comfortable and permanent [place to stay], because we do not think of ever returning to Myanmar.”

Migrants living in temporary shelter in Indonesia await a decision about their futures.

Food supplies for three months

Islamic Relief, which has been working in Aceh for more than a decade, has kitted out the communal kitchens in the facilities with furniture and cooking equipment such as gas stoves and pots.

Rosida and her family are among more than 1,600 people receiving regular food supplies for at least three months through the Islamic Relief project. Culturally-sensitive staples provided so far include rice, sardines, cooking oil, mung beans, juice, and sugar.

“We, the migrants who are given refuge in this temporary shelter, are very grateful to Islamic Relief, which has delivered water and food to us,” she said. In a bid to prevent malnutrition amongst children in the facilities, Islamic Relief has also distributed supplementary foodstuffs such as biscuits and juice.

“Those things alone have already refreshed the hearts of the stranded migrants. The generosity and kindness of Islamic Relief’s donors have proven that humanitarianism is very strong in this world. Therefore, on behalf of Rohingya migrants, I wish to say thank you. We also hope that the donors will always be protected by God and that Islamic Relief will always be able to help humanity.”

Altogether, some 1,662 people are benefitting from the project, which began in July.

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