Langsa, INDONESIA, 25 May 2015 - It is almost midday when I finally arrive at the compound in Langsa that has become a temporary home for some of the refugees and migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Between 10 and 20 May, a total of 1,829 boat people from the two countries have managed to reach the shores of Aceh and North Sumatra provinces, in West Indonesia. Among them are 599 children, including 345 unaccompanied minors.
They braved the perilous sea journey from their respective home countries some of them fleeing persecution and discrimination, others to escape poverty. Many more are still stranded at sea.
As I make my way into the women’s and children’s barrack, I see three adolescent girls clinging together in one corner of the room. I smile at them and they shyly smile back. Only later I realize how precious that smile was, considering the ordeal they had gone through at sea.
“My name is Mira*, I am 15 years old. These are my sisters Alma* who is 14, and Seemal*. She is 13,” the oldest girl explains.