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God only hope for children on boat

October 19, 2009

The West Australian : Traumatised children just want to get off their stinking boat
TOM ALLARD MERAK, 17 October 2009

They are promised that a bright future awaits, that the gods will take care of them, but the 31 Tamil children among the 255 asylum-seekers moored in Merak are deeply traumatised and confused.

While some of the adults on board say they will die rather than disembark, many of the children just want to get off the wooden cargo ship, as the one toilet on board emits a stinking odour and their parents grow more disorientated in the baking heat, refusing to eat or drink.

“My son says, ‘Mama, Mama, I don’t want this, why are you taking me, why am I on this boat?’ It is very difficult for them to understand,” says Varshini, a mother of two from Jaffna who says she had no choice but to leave Sri Lanka after her husband was abducted.

“I say, ‘Please don’t worry, the gods, God, will save us. Please wait. There will be good food and drinks, good futures and good study.’”

…Nine-year old Brindha, the girl who tearfully pleaded for asylum before the cameras two days ago, is nowhere to be seen but Varshini admits: “There are lots of problem with the children. It’s very difficult. We can’t manage all of them. Some are very, very thin and we can’t manage.” Varshini says her children believe they will see their father soon. She has yet to tell them that he was taken away by “criminals” — Sinhalese security forces — 18 months ago.

“I have been searching, searching for him, but cannot find him,” she says. “He was kidnapped, yes. I think he was killed. But I don’t know, sir.” More

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  1. Australians for Tamil Justice permalink*
    October 19, 2009 11:12 am

    The West Australian : Traumatised children just want to get off their stinking boat
    TOM ALLARD MERAK, 17 October 2009

    They are promised that a bright future awaits, that the gods will take care of them, but the 31 Tamil children among the 255 asylum-seekers moored in Merak are deeply traumatised and confused.

    While some of the adults on board say they will die rather than disembark, many of the children just want to get off the wooden cargo ship, as the one toilet on board emits a stinking odour and their parents grow more disorientated in the baking heat, refusing to eat or drink.

    “My son says, ‘Mama, Mama, I don’t want this, why are you taking me, why am I on this boat?’ It is very difficult for them to understand,” says Varshini, a mother of two from Jaffna who says she had no choice but to leave Sri Lanka after her husband was abducted.

    “I say, ‘Please don’t worry, the gods, God, will save us. Please wait. There will be good food and drinks, good futures and good study.’”

    Sobbing, then proclaiming coolly her willingness to stay on the boat forever while waiting for a country other than Indonesia to take them, Varshini is erratic and at times irrational.

    Indonesia is not a safe place, she says, because of tsunamis.

    Marthavan, her seven-year old son, and Amirtha, her four-year old daughter, spend most of their time below decks on the 30m boat.

    They are taking food and water, as are some of the breastfeeding mothers and a pregnant woman.

    Coming up briefly, Marthavan and Amirtha smiled shyly, clasping their hands together in the Hindu greeting.

    Back below, they are out of the stifling heat but there is no place to play. And there is no hope of reaching Australia any time soon.

    Nine-year old Brindha, the girl who tearfully pleaded for asylum before the cameras two days ago, is nowhere to be seen but Varshini admits: “There are lots of problem with the children. It’s very difficult. We can’t manage all of them. Some are very, very thin and we can’t manage.” Varshini says her children believe they will see their father soon. She has yet to tell them that he was taken away by “criminals” — Sinhalese security forces — 18 months ago.

    “I have been searching, searching for him, but cannot find him,” she says. “He was kidnapped, yes. I think he was killed. But I don’t know, sir.”

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