The Most Important Thing for Me Is My Life Is Safe and Peaceful

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

7

‘I am going to die here’ thought Dinesh when drifting on a wooden boat between Indonesia and Australia. The engine broke down in the middle of the Indian Ocean leaving destiny in the hands of the current and ferocious waves . For days Dinesh did not eat and could only drink water from the rain. Together with dozens of fellow passengers he grow weak from hunger and fear. Men, women, and children had to face the danger of death at sea.

In hunger and despair, some people tried to lure fish with improvised fishing equipment to at least be able to feed the children and women. If lucky one or two fish a day could be caught. For the rest, they just relyed on drinking rain water to survive. Ninety-five days they were floating in the sea.

“It would have been better to die in the sea than have to suffer upon my return to my country,” said the 17 years old Dinesh. At the age of 12, he was forced to join an armed group in Sri Lanka. Hundreds of other children suffered the same fate.

“I do not like guns. I do not like war. I am afraid to see people dying, but I was forced to do it.” During one of the violent clashes, he run away and hid in a safe place, but was caught by government soldiers, who jailed him for five months. One time as a drink water truck entered the prison he escaped running and hid for two months at his brother’s house. Unfortunately, he was caught again by armed groups and government informers and returned to custody. While detained he experienced repeated violence and severe torture.

After he managed to escape again the only option for him seemed to leave the country aboard a boat with dozens of people suffering a similar fate. Like his older brother, who had fled to India, Dinesh was seeking asylum and a safe place.

Drifting in the middle of the ocean full of desperation and fear Dinesh and his fellow refugees were found by an Indonesian fishing boat in March 2013. “It was like a miracle and grace from the Creator,” said Dinesh. “The fisherman gave us instant noodles and towed our boat ashore. There were security officers but we did not care anymore. At that time, the only thing we had in mind was food,” he recalls.

Dinesh and others in the boat were detained at an Immigration Detention Center, living in crammed conditions, locked in a stuffy room for 24 hours a day, during the first month. No fresh air, no sunlight, only iron bars. In such circumstances, he still remains grateful to be given the opportunity to live and obtain food, all is better than the two months in the open sea with fear and without food.

In a detention center it is easy to lose hope. “At that time I did not know how long I will be locked in a prison like this. When JRS came and visited us every day, I felt very happy to have friends here. JRS also helped me to get documents and assisted me,” says Dinesh.

November 2013 Dinesh was excited and full of hope after receiving his refugee status from UNHCR. Now he is waiting for a third country to accept him for resettlement. “If it is free I want to learn anything. I want to learn English, computers, whatever,” said Dinesh. “Initially I wanted to go to Australia. Now I do not care how long I will stay here or where I can go after this. The most important thing for me is my life is safe and peaceful.” ***

Saefudin Amsa

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