"When I was 17 or 18 years old I met some refugees from South Africa who had fled apartheid, and I realized that no one flees without very strong cause."
Henning Mankell visited a refugee settlement and a transit centre in Uganda, neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"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."
Despite the trauma Abdul has been through, he would do it again…
I had met Bosnian refugees in Malaysia years ago when I was working at a university in the 1990s, and they were very much welcomed by the Malaysian Government and given assistance. Years later, I met a boy who told me he was from Myanmar, begging for money at a café where I was eating.
“Buildings have been destroyed, we lost everything, we came with nothing except the clothes we were wearing.”
When he tells his story, Wasil bursts into tears. Later his wife tells us that he didn’t stop crying all the way down from Homs to the border.
We just had to leave. In the morning, we were alive but there was no certainty in the evening. I feel heartbroken because they destroyed our masjid, our young children, our houses, our properties. It was very painful, very painful. I didn’t want to stay there anymore.
James Prince Koroma is a former refugee from Sierra Leone in West Africa. After being resettled to Australia, James has wanted to give back – so now works with Australia for UNHCR to raise much needed funding to support refugees.