Smugglers are abducting children

Abdul (11) was at sea for one month after he was abducted from his parents in Myanmar. Save the Children is now asking for a long-term solution. ‘With particular focus on women and children’ says Søren Pedersen who leads the work of Save the Children Norway in Asia.

Abdul was abducted from his parents in Myanmar, who could not afford to pay the ransom to the smugglers. Photo by Save the Children

In a safe environment at Save the Children’s centre in Phang Nga in Thailand, 11-year-old Abdul now tells how he was blindfolded and abducted from his parents in Myanmar.

“I did not get the chance to say goodbye to them. Not to my sister either. I do not know where they are right now. I miss them very much and I would like to see them again,” Abdul says.

At sea for one month
Abdul tells how the smugglers blindfolded him, so he could not see where they went. During the month he was at sea and after he was brought ashore to stay in the forest for another month, he almost got nothing to eat.

“When I lived in the forest I ate bamboo shoots to survive. Afterwards some new people came to transport us to the next place,” Abdul tells.

As 11-year-old, Abdul witnessed how other refugees who were with him at sea were abducted and killed in front of his eyes. The smugglers, who drove the car, finally got arrested in Thailand, and Abdul was transported to the centre in Phang Nga in Thailand.

Abdul is now living at the centre, along with around 80 other children and mothers fleeing.

Crisis meeting
Recently 15 of the countries involved in the refugee crisis in the Indian Ocean attended an extraordinary crisis meeting to find a solution to the problem.

Save the Children is now asking for a long-term solution to help the people fleeing across the sea. Ahead of the meeting Save the Children and 86 other organizations have asked all parties involved to implement 7 strategy points on how to help the children and adults displaced.

“We want to emphasize that all people who are in need are entitled to emergency assistance and protection, with particular focus on women and children. All rescue operations should ensure safe landings and access to a full and fair process of asylum applications for those who need international protection,” says Søren Pedersen, who leads the work of Save the Children Norway in Asia. 

Save the Children Norway in Myanmar
Save the Children Norway is funding programs in Kayah State, Megway Region, Chin State and the Kachin State. Their programs are mainly related to protection of children, child rights governance and especially education.

The Phang Nga centre, where Abdul is living, is one of six areas in Myanmar where Save the Children is working to provide emergency assistance and child-friendly spaces to children who are fleeing.

 

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