Syaitara Longing for Her MotherWednesday, August 12th, 2015
Syaitara, a 10 years old Rohingya girl has been longing for her family since she was separated from her mother Khonsuma (34) and her two siblings Imam Husein (8) and Nurul Amin (6). The boat carrying her was stranded on the coast of Aceh Tamiang, while the other boat carrying her family was stranded on Pusong Telaga Tujuh Island, Langsa and then towed to Kuala Langsa. Syaitara is now staying at SKB Kuala Simpang Camp while her mother and siblings stay at Kuala Langsa Camp, about 38km apart.
Syaitara and her family left Rakhine Myanmar to reunite with the father, who is now in Malaysia. They travelled together from Myanmar to the border of Myanmar-Thailand with a cargo boat, then planed to travel by land through Thailand. But they were refused to enter the country by the Thailand authorities then loaded onto some fishing boats and directed towards the Indonesian shore until they got stranded on the east coast of Aceh on May 11, 2015.
At the port of Kuala Langsa, there are now 678 displaced people who occupy two warehouses. It is very hot during the day due to lack of air circulation. When JRS showed Syaitara’s picture to Khonsuma, she was very happy. Clasping hands on her chest and repeating her daughter’s name, “Syaitara… Syaitara,” Khonsuma expressed how excited she was to finally hear about her daughter again. Then she called her other two children to show Syaitara’s picture on the JRS’ camera. Because of language limitation, JRS could only said, “Syaitara is ok” and raised thumb to hint the good news.
Syaitara now stays at SKB Kuala Simpang Camp with 8 adult females and 4 girls. There are also 35 males, including 11 men from Bangladesh. Her camp has quite decent facilities. Normally used as accommodation for teacher training in Aceh Tamiang district, there were rooms with beds for the refugees. Some activist from a local NGO, Hijabers Tamiang, Dira and Liza TanƟana accompany refugees in this camp. When JRS visited on Friday (29/5), Liza and Dira were chatting with Syaitara using a mix of languages, including sign language and Indonesian. Syaitara shyly expressed that she wanted to see her mother. She could only say “Bibi, bibi” which means mother.
Hijabers had tried to find Syaitara’s mother in Kuala Langsa Camp and showed Syaitara’s picture through a smartphone. They were hoping to reunite them but it didn’t get any further than that due to some permit restriction. According to Dira, she already contacted Langsa City Social Agency, Red Cross, and Immigration to either transfer Syaitara to her mother’s camp or the other way around. Tahir, a fisherman from Pusong Telaga Tujuh Island had tried to help them too. He printed a picture of Syaitara and gave it to her mother. But he couldn’t do anything further than wait until the relevant authorities will approve the transfer. Tahir told JRS his story in helping the boat people.
While helping two boats towed to Kuala Langsa port on May 13, Tahir and his friends were initially stopped before entering Kuala Langsa port. However Tahir insisted and reminded port authorities that he was carrying people who needed help, and according to Aceh’s local marine law it is obligatory to help other human beings drifting in the sea. Finally the boat people, including Syaitara’s mother and her siblings were pulled to the port and got helped by the locals.
JRS had reported Syaitara’s situation to international organizations and local authorities, but until JRS left on May 30, it was still not clear when she would be reunited with her family. The last update JRS received from Hijabers was still the same. Dira and her friends are still hopeful to soon reunite Syaitara with her mother and siblings.
If we, as a human family, insist on only ever seeing refugees as a burden, we deprive ourselves of the opportunities for solidarity that are also always opportunities for mutual learning, mutual enrichment, and mutual growth. Continue reading
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The Jesuit Refugee Service joined together with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and representatives of a number of faith-based organisations to call for greater protection for refugees.
The multilingual, 16-page declaration, known as an Affirmation of Welcome, is the first to involve UNHCR and a spectrum of faith-based organisations. Continue reading
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Yogyakarta, 14 November 2011 – 31 years is not short measured on a lifetime. After a 31 year journey JRS is proud of the heritage of spiritual insights from Pedro Arrupe who arouse the concern of people for the refugees. This year, JRS Indonesia celebrated its 31st anniversary in many simple ways. Continue reading
It was the 20st of June, World Refugee Day, and JRS had invited to come to Sanata Dharma University Yogyakarta. About 50 people including lecturers, representatives of civil society and students from Indonesia, Thailand and Burma/Myanmar had gathered here to watch the film describing the experiences and challenges faced by refugees in their home country and in the country of asylum (Malaysia). “Personally I appreciate everyone that helps them (refugees) and accepts them in their country … these people fleeing and their voices touched everyone of us” states Lorence a student from Myanmar/Burma at Sanata Dharma University in Yogyakarta still touched by the stories shared through the film. Continue reading