The immigration detention centre on the island of Hulhumale’ is a world away from nearby Ibrahim Nasir Internaitonal Airport, writes Raisa Wickrematunge for the Sri Lanka-based newspaper, The Sunday Leader.
“Hulhumale’ is known as the airport island of the Maldives- it’s where tourists from all over the world fly in. But the other section of Hulhumale’ is a world away from the runway. It houses a detention centre, one which takes in migrant workers who have fallen foul of the law.
This centre is manned by a single immigration officer and two police guards, who have just been appointed. Indeed, they are so new to the job that they do not even check our paperwork when we arrive at the gate.
‘When I got here, it was just thick trees and scrub. No one could live here,’ the immigration officer said, emphatically. He and two officers cleared the area and set up the centre- a long building with an aluminium roof.
There is a separate section for the toilets. The stench is indescribable. There are a couple of shower stalls, simple taps with running water, one of them outdoors.
Around 20 Bangladeshis are currently living here, although the number could swell to around 70, and often does. They say they are here because they have been cheated by unscrupulous agents. Many have no travel documents. The immigration officer says many of them are here because they committed petty crimes.”