When 'home' is a refugee camp

KUALA LANGSA, Indonesia – After a perilous sea journey, about 1,800 boatpeople from Myanmar and Bangladesh have now found refuge in different parts of Aceh. 

What are the conditions in the refugee camps? What is next for them? 

Rappler Indonesia's Febriana Firdaus reports. 

This is the Kuala Langsa refugee camp in Aceh. 

This is now the temporary home of 563 men, 58 women, and 51 children from Myanmar and Bangladesh, who were rescued by Indonesian fishermen on May 15

The conditions here are not ideal. But they are already grateful to be here after a long and dangerous sea journey, where the Rohingya from Myanmar and the Bangladeshi almost killed each other fighting over food.  

“Burma and Bangladesh fighting. Burma food, Bengali no food,” Farouk, a 22-year-old Bangladeshi, told Rappler. 

Rukiyah Hatul, a 20-year-old Rohingyan, also said so many people died fighting over food. 

“(In the boat) no food, no water. People die every day," she said. 

"(In the camp, people say) ‘Come here, come here’. They give us a little food, and a little more.

"Everyone died. My father died, my brother died.” 

Here in Kuala Langsa, they have food. The local government provides them 3 meals a day and clean drinking water. The residents of Kuala Langsa have also donated clothes they can use. 

This is the second refugee camp in Aceh, in Kuala Cangkoi, two and half hours from Kuala Langsa. There are 332 refugees here. 

The conditions are the same. The refugees are all staying in an empty building with no decent toilet facilities. During lunch time, we can see long lines of refugees waiting to get food. 

The UN Refugee Agency is present in both camps to process the boatpeople. If they qualify as refugees, the UN will help find them a permanent home. 

But how long that will take is uncertain. 

Febriana Firdaus, Rappler Indonesia.