Brother and sister Sayed and Taioba sit side by side on a bench one floor up from the arrivals hall at Dublin airport. They came early this morning, with Sayed’s young daughter, to meet Taioba’s husband Safi who she hasn’t seen in three years. None of them have slept from the excitement of finally having Safi with them. After eight years of waiting, they have only two more – slow – hours to wait as his flight has been delayed. They wait patiently, and share their story with the Red Cross to help pass the time…READ MORE BELOW.
17 Years in a Refugee Camp
Sayed and his family originally fled their home country Myanmar because of the dangers facing Rohingya people. Once in the relative safety of a Bangladesh refugee camp, Sayed set about teaching himself to sew. Eventually starting a tailoring business making clothes for other refugees in the camp, “most people only had the one set of clothes given to them each year”, says Sayed. His passion for tailoring is evident today in the beautiful dress his young daughter is wearing today as she waits with him for her Uncle to arrive, “yes, this is no problem for me”, says Sayed about making the dress. The pride beaming from his smiling face.
Back in 2009, after 17 years in the refugee camp, Sayed was faced with an impossible choice – keep the family together or take the opportunity for some of them to be resettled in Ireland. One offered an uncertain future, the other offered hope and certain safety. Together the family chose to take a chance on hope, Sayed along with his Mother, sister, wife and children traveled to Ireland to start their new life. Safi and the rest of the family stayed behind in the camp.
In Ireland, Sayed now works in security. He is warmed by the care of Irish people, he says about his colleagues, “At work, I am often outside at night. The Irish people there always look after me – ‘am I OK’, ‘would I like a hot drink’”.
“In Myanmar and Bangladesh, I was always scared. I feel very safe in Ireland.”
The screen above them flickers, the word ‘ARRIVED’ is finally displayed for the flight Taioba has been watching intently. The family collect their things, including a winter jacket they have brought for Safi, and head down the escalator. At the arrivals gate, they finally see him, there is Safi with a representative from IOM who has accompanied him through from the plane. Sayed and his little girl greet Safi with a warm embrace and present him with flowers. There are smiles all round. Taioba holds back letting her brother and niece fuss over her husband. The happiness and relief on her face is unmistakable, her eyes do not leave her husband’s face.
Greetings given and suitably kitted out for the frosty Irish weather, Safi follows his family out of the airport and toward his new life with his wife in Ireland.
Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links
Safi and Taioba were reunited through the Family Reunification Travel Assistance Programme (UNHCR, IOM and Irish Red Cross). Travel Assistance is part of the Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links programme.
The Irish Red Cross Restoring Family Links Service is a free service designed to enable members of dispersed and separated families to exchange news, to rediscover each other’s whereabouts and to be reunited. For more information see, www.redcross.ie/reuniting-families.
Despite the ongoing efforts to achieve peace in Myanmar, fighting continues in northern Shan and in Kachin. Over 100,000 people are still displaced and thousands more affected by conflict and in need of assistance in the Northeast. In Rakhine, the consequences of the violence that affected all communities in 2012 and the restrictions on movement that followed, still weigh heavily on people’s everyday lives. The Red Cross is helping people in Myanmar who are affected by natural disasters and violence, offering health services, knowledge of the risk of landmines, rehabilitation for people with disabilities, access to clean water and essential items.