Four-year-old Rohingya boy Ajis, who was sold for RM2,000 (about US$530) and smuggled across the border into Malaysia, is safe and well with his adoptive parents.
KUALA LUMPUR: The story of four-year-old Rohingya boy Ajis, who miraculously turned up at the UNHCR office in Kuala Lumpur in May, has stunned many.
Ajis who was travelling with his mother survived a treacherous journey across the Andaman Sea and mosquito-infested jungles in the Thai-Malaysia border, but sadly his mother did not.
She died in one of transit camps run by smugglers, now known as death camps. After her death, Ajis was sold for RM2,000 (about US$530) and smuggled across the border into Malaysia.
Now living in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur with his adoptive parents, Ajis looked well. It was a relief because the recent disappearance of Ajis, who was said to have gone to stay with relatives, had triggered alarm bells.
Aegile Fernandez, director of Tenaganita Women's Force, said: "We hear of so many stories of this kind of border sales - children brought all the way from Myanmar and kept at the border being sold to someone with the highest bidding.
"Where did they get the money to buy the child? Survival is so tough in Malaysia - they are not allowed to work and they hardly have much money. Is the child to be taken to be resold? We don't know. It does happen because a lot of families are looking for children (they can adopt)."
But Ajis' adoptive father Hamid Hussein said he would never give Ajis away or trade him for money.
"I will not give him to anyone, he will stay with me until he grows up," said Hamid, a Rohingya refugee registered with the UNHCR.
Hamid and his wife Fatimah already have two girls of their own, but Hamid is glad to be able to put a roof over their heads. However, working between odd jobs of driving garbage trucks, the money he earned is not going to be enough, he said.
"With the money I earn, it's hard to support my family. All my money goes to children's expenses," he added,
His priority, he said, is to get Ajis registered with UNHCR as soon as possible so that he is accorded some protection as a refugee and receive medical benefits and access to schooling.