Dozens of Rohingya Refugees Land in Aceh

Aceh, MINA – A ship which carrying dozens of Rohingya refugees who sailed since February has docked in Indonesia. The journey which took 113 days was passed after being adrift in the Andaman Sea due to engine failure, Republika reported.

The arrival of the Rohingya refugees in Aceh was conveyed by a human rights official on Friday. The ship sailed on February 11 from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh carrying 90 Rohingya refugees. Most of them are women and children, they hope to reach Malaysia.

However, the boat’s engine died four days after leaving Cox’s Bazar, where refugee camps host hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled the state of Myanmar.

“We have learned that 81 (refugees) are okay, they landed on Idaman Island in Aceh (Indonesia),” said Chris Lewa, who is director of the Arakan Project, a group that monitors the Rohingya crisis.

“They are not 100 per cent safe there yet. We hope they will not be pushed back,” said Lewa.

Of the 90 people who set off on the voyage, eight were found dead by the Indian Coast Guard, which had tracked and then repaired the vessel in February. Indian authorities provided the survivors with food and essential supplies, but refused to let them set foot on the beach. Bangladesh also denied them (81 survivors) re-entry.

Over the past three months, international aid agencies and family members of those on board have made repeated requests to India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Malaysia for information on the fate of the survivors on board.

Dwi Prafitria, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia said that the refugees are currently homeless as they wait for coordination with the local government. Authorities in Indonesia, including local police and immigration, were not immediately available for comment on Friday.

The Rohingya are a minority group, most of whom are denied citizenship by Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. More than a million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar live in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, including tens of thousands who fled after the Myanmar military launched a deadly crackdown in 2017.

Traffickers often woo Rohingya refugees, enticing them to travel on rickety boats with the promise of being given jobs in Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia. (T/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)