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81 Rohingya Refugees Stranded in Indonesia's Aceh Province

June 4, 2021, 11.46 PM

ACEH TIMUR, - The Indonesian province of Aceh continues to receive Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution and political unrest in Myanmar.

A boat carrying 81 Rohingya refugees has landed on Idaman Island in East Aceh Regency on Friday, June 4 after a 113-day voyage.

"We have learnt that the 81 (refugees) were fine, they landed on Idaman Island in Aceh (Indonesia)," said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, a group that monitors the Rohingya crisis, as quoted by the Reuters news agency.

The headman of Kuala Simpang village on Idaman Island, Ulim Umar Idris, backed Chris' findings. "The villagers said the ship had been stranded off [Kuala Simpang] village. The locals also gave food and drink [to the refugees]," he said.

Also read: Indonesian Military Thwarts Smuggling of Rohingya Refugees to Malaysia

"However, nobody dared to approach them, for fear of Covid-19 transmission."

Dwi Prafitria, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia, told Reuters that the refugees currently don't have a place to stay as it awaits coordination with the local government.

The vessel set sail from Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh on February 11 with 90 refugees, mostly women and children, with the hope of reaching Malaysia. But the boat's engine failed off the Andaman Islands, four days after leaving Cox's Bazar. 

Of the 90 people who set out on the voyage, eight were found dead by Indian Coast Guards who had tracked and later repaired the vessel in February.

Also read: Indonesia Urges Myanmar to Resolve Conflict with the Rohingya

Indian authorities provided food and essential supplies to survivors but refused to let them set foot on their shores. Bangladesh, too, denied re-entry to 81 survivors.

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 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are living in teeming camps in Bangladesh, including tens of thousands who fled after Myanmar's military conducted a deadly crackdown in 2017.

Human traffickers often lure Rohingya refugees, persuading them to travel on rickety vessels with the promise of work in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia.

(Writer: Lhokseumawe Contributor, Masriadi, PIzaro Gozali Idrus | Editor : Abba Gabrillin)


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