Abdul’s Story, Indonesia

Abdul*, an 18 year old Rohingya from northern Rakhine state in Myanmar, struggled to survive as a farmer and fisherman as he was not allowed to move freely. Despite living there for generations, the Rohingya are not recognized as Myanmar citizens and face many restrictions in their daily lives. These difficulties were exacerbated after the outbreak of inter-communal violence in June 2012, during which Abdul’s grandfather was killed.


Abdul and his brother left a year before the violence, on a boat carrying 129 people.


“We were looking for any country that was safe, somewhere we could live. We planned to stop the first time we saw land. We landed in Thailand. We were caught by men in uniform and pushed back to sea.”


To stay alive, the passengers rationed what they had left, sipping only half a glass of water a day. On the 18th day of their voyage, a passing fishing boat found and fed them, then towed them to Aceh in northern Indonesia.

Despite the trauma he has been through, he would do it again.

“I don’t want to go back to Myanmar, I might get shot.”


Text by UNHCR/Vivian Tan

* Name changed for protection reasons

1 family torn apart by war is too many

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