Boat with more than 100 Rohingya lands in Indonesia’s Aceh province

A boat carrying more than 100 weak and hungry Rohingya landed in a coastal village in Indonesia’s westernmost Aceh province on Tuesday, local authorities said, adding that the refugees were at sea for over a month.

Authorities have not yet determined where these members of Myanmar’s stateless minority had fled from, but many Rohingya groups previously landed in Indonesia while en route to neighboring Malaysia or other destinations.

North Aceh regency spokesman Hamdani said the 111 refugees – 65 men, 27 women, and 19 children including a toddler – were transferred to mosques in Meunasah Baro village. Some news reports said the boat was carrying 110 refugees.

“Their condition was weak. We are currently checking their health,” Hamdani, who uses one name, told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service.

He said local fishermen saw that the Rohingya had reached the shoreline at 3:25 a.m.

“The fishermen immediately contacted village officials to rescue the Rohingya refugees, then they were transferred to mosques in the village,” Hamdani said.

North Aceh police chief Herman Saputra said the Rohingya had been drifting at sea for nearly six weeks.

“They were 40 days at sea but we don’t know yet where they came from yet,” Herman told BenarNews.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said staff were in touch with the National Refugee Task Force, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and activists to assist the latest Rohingya arrivals.

“UNHCR really appreciates the Indonesian government for granting permission to land for more than 100 Rohingya in North Aceh this morning,” Mitra Salima Suryono, UNHCR spokeswoman in Indonesia, told BenarNews.

Mardani Ali Sera, an Indonesian MP, urged the government and civil society to help resolve the root causes of the Rohingya issue.

“The ASEAN-led communiqué calling for isolating the military junta leadership is good, but it’s not enough,” Mardani told BenarNews.

“There needs to be decisive action to stop the humanitarian crisis, for Rohingya in particular, and Myanmar in general.”

About 740,000 Rohingya fled to and are living in refugee camps in and around Cox’s Bazar, a district in southeastern Bangladesh, after the Myanmar military launched a bloody offensive against the community in the Rakhine state on Aug. 25, 2017.

The sprawling Cox’s Bazar camps are home to about 1 million Rohingya.

Hundreds of refugees have paid smugglers to transport them to Thailand and Malaysia, hoping to find work away from Myanmar or the crowded refugee camps of Bangladesh.

Indonesia is not a destination country for Rohingya, but they make the country a stopover before leaving for third nations such as Malaysia or Australia, says the UNHCR.

In March, a group of 114 Rohingya arrived in the Aceh region after spending 25 days at sea. Another group was rescued off the North Aceh coast in December 2021 after their boat engine failed.


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