Haresa Bibi, 18, Rohingya refugee from Myanmar, left a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and spent seven months on the sea, losing three sisters during the harrowing journey before arriving in Aceh, Indonesia. “I have had a terrible life. I would like to emphasized that, we already had a very hard time. I want peace, if you could find a peaceful life for me,” she spoke in a soft and subdued voice, covering her sun-beaten face. Over 300 Rohingya refugees, most are women and children, landed in Aceh, Indonesia in September after spending 7 months at sea. After departing from Cox’s Bazar, they had tried repeatedly to disembark in South East Asia countries before reaching Indonesia. More than 30 were reported to have died during the journey amid harrowing conditions. The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar. The latest exodus began in August 2017, when violence broke out in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, driving more than 742,000 to seek refuge in Bangladesh. Their lives in limbo, some often risk their lives to seek better life elsewhere including Haresa, and the COVID-19 pandemic added extraordinary challenges to their already unfathomable plight and the work of humanitarian workers who aim to help.
Born in Osaka, Japan, Jiro Ose has worked as a photojournalist at several daily newspapers before turning freelance in 2005. He has covered various events worldwide such as the historical election in the DR Congo and Sudanese refugee crisis, departure of deposed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti, Iraq War and others. He received various awards including the Award of Excellence in the Magazine General News Story category of the Pictures of the Year International competition for his coverage of DR Congo election. After spending15 years in Africa and 3 years in the Middle East, Ose has recently relocated to Jakarta, Indonesia.