LHOKSEUMAWE, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel from the 0103/North Aceh Military District Command (Kodim) have thwarted another attempt to smuggle out Rohingya refugees from their temporary shelter in Lhoksemumawe on Saturday, December 12.
The 20 women refugees were apprehended in different places. Besides, the TNI personnel also arrested a 42-year-old woman identified by her initial H who is believed to be the agent for bringing the Rohingya refugees to Malaysia via Medan in Indonesia’s North Sumatra.
Lieutenant Colonel Oke Kistiyanto, Commander of the North Aceh Military Command, said that the TNI members who are on duty at the temporary shelter have received information about the Rohingya refugees who left the camp without permission or the assistance of officers.
“Following the attempt to trace the whereabouts of the refugees, five people were found in front of the Lido Graha Hotel, nine others in a minimarket nearby the refugee camp, while the rest of the people were arrested in a Lhokseumawe City gas station,” Oke told reporters in Lhokseumawe on Sunday, December 13.
“They [the refugees] were gathered by H before heading to Medan [North Sumatra] and then Malaysia,” he added.
“If they commit an offense, the case will be handed over to the Lhokseumawe Police. This has been taking place for the umpteenth time,” Oke said. The investigation is currently taking place.
Kompas.com previously reported that throughout this year the Rohingya refugees have fled the camp at least seven times.
A public relations officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mitra Suryono, said that from the beginning the refugees had been aiming for Malaysia.
“They left Bangladesh for Malaysia. But they were stranded in Aceh waters due to a damaged boat,” Mitra told reporters in Lhokseumawe on December 10.
Mitra said that some of their relatives have managed to settle in Malaysia. Therefore, those who are still in the camp in Indonesia hope to go to Malaysia.
“In Malaysia, some of their family members, such as husband or sibling, have lived a decent life. So their intention to go to Malaysia persists,” said Mitra.
Mitra said that the UNHCR will submit the legal process to the police regarding the alleged crime of trafficking among the Rohingya refugees. However, the advocacy to bring the refugees to Malaysia legally will be continued.
“The process requires further efforts and takes a long time as this needs to be in line with the law and regulations in Malaysia for us to bring the Rohingya refugees into the country,” she said.
UNHCR is continuing to equip the facilities in the refugee camp to prevent the Rohingya people from escaping. Besides, the staffers remind them of the dangers of using third-party services to go to Malaysia.
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