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Sri Lanka Navy detains Rohingya – majority children

A Rohingya child sleeps on bus during transfer to Mirihana detention camp

By The Stateless Rohingya

Sri Lanka Navy rescued Rohingya, critical situation awaits for 16 children and a pregnant mother as Ramadan approaches

The Sri Lanka Navy rescued 30 Rohingya boat people while fleeing to Sri Lanka from India on April 30, 2017, after Indian political parties threatened to burn huts and attack on the Rohingya refugees several times in Jammu, where they stayed at temporary makeshift camp for more than four years.

Along with two Indian citizens, 30 Rohingya that includes 16 minors, six women, one pregnant mother and the rest are men of six families.

The rescued Rohingya refugees and 2 Indian Citizens (far right) before transfer to Mirihana Detention camp

Two sheds separated by iron bar in 10 metres distance are placed in Mirihana detention camp – one for female and other for male in an area of approximately 50 square metre inside Mirihana Police Station one hour drive from Colombo.

Rohingya women and children before transfer to Mirihana Detention camp

During the short interview, it is clear that their long journey from Myanmar to Sri Lanka was perilous and dangerous crossing borders.

In 2012 during the heights of the genocidal campaign against Rohingya, they fled to Bangladesh. Failure to find a way to survive in Bangladesh makeshift refugee camps, they decided to leave for India after four months.

After reaching India, they found a place to stay on in Jammu bearing UNHCR asylum cards, however, they continued to struggle for survival. After four years, some of BJP supporters turned violent to evacuate Rohingya and Bangladeshi immigrants from Jammu. As they protesters attacked on their huts burning, beating and rape took place, they have decided again to move for their safety.

“When again all of same persecution, we faced in Myanmar earlier, were following on us then we  decided to leave India without any aim, just to search for safety for our children and families. By the grace of almighty Allah the Sri Lanka Navy got us and handover to Jaffna police(Sri Lanka police) then they took us to court. Then transferred here (Mirihana detention camp),” Said an elderly man when asked for the reason of their dangerous journey.

“They are about to take to the court to Jaffna when require. The case is still pending. Till the case discharge they should stay this prison like detention camp. But I expect the court will handover them to UNHCR Sri Lanka,” said a lady serving them at the detention centre.

Upon observation and conversation, their condition remain critical as majority are children under 10 and a pregnant mother in her later stage of pregnancy. Though they have facilities to prepare food with permission from the authority, they lack funding for daily expenses.

Mohammed Amin, the husband of the pregnant lady who lives in the separate camp said in tears, “nowadays we are managing anyhow but we fear about Ramadan (fasting) times. It would be better if we can cook and send to other family members to other shed.”