Abdullah closes his eyes as he recalls the terrifying journey he made after escaping from Rakhine State, in Myanmar. “When I saw people dying day by day, I prayed to Allah to save my life to reach Thailand safely,” he murmurs. Although Abdullah survived the journey, upon arrival he was taken to a smugglers’ camp, beaten and forced to work. He escaped, but still bears the scars today. “If I think of this situation, it’s like I came to this place to sacrifice my life. I feel very sad.”
In Southeast Asia, it is estimated that 54,000 people have undertaken irregular maritime journeys so far in 2014, fleeing Bangladesh or Myanmar for Thailand, Malaysia or Indonesia.