Rohingya refugees adrift for weeks at Sea Land in Indonesia « Khabarhub
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Rohingya refugees adrift for weeks at Sea Land in Indonesia

27 December 2022  

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INDONESIA: A broken-down boat ferrying over 180 ethnic Rohingya men, women and children landed Monday afternoon on the shores of Indonesia’s Aceh province after weeks adrift with more than a dozen reported deaths, two rights groups that have been tracking the vessel told VOA.

It comes on the heels of a boat of 57 Rohingya men that also landed in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra in the Indonesian archipelago’s far west, on Sunday.

Relatives of those on board the boat that landed Monday afternoon say it left Bangladesh in November with 160 to 200 passengers, said Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project. More than 1 million Rohingya are living in Bangladesh refugee camps after fleeing persecution in neighboring Myanmar.

Videos of the scene shared with VOA on Monday showed the boat resting in the shallows as locals helped dozens of men, women and children out of the water. Lewa said several of the passengers’ relatives — living in Malaysia, where the passengers were likely headed — identified family members in the same videos.

“We contacted relatives of the [passengers on the] boat in distress just to check whether or not they were from the same group,” she said. “And, yes, they confirmed.”

Lilianne Fan, international director of the Geutanyoe Foundation, an Indonesian rights group that was also tracking the boat, confirmed its landing Monday.

She said initial reports from contacts at the scene indicated that 83 men, 70 women and 32 children were brought ashore.

The rights groups said last week that up to 20 passengers might have died during the journey up to that point. They could not immediately confirm the death toll as of Monday.

In the videos, some of the rescued passengers appear exhausted and emaciated. A Rohingya activist in the refugee camps told VOA last week that the captain of the boat had told him by phone that they were “starving to death.”

“We can see from the conditions that are visible in the videos that have been emerging that the conditions of these refugees are extremely dire, that there’s a lot of malnourishment,” Fan said.

“We can expect that there are multiple health problems that are going to have to be addressed immediately. We’ve heard that at least 30 of them are in need of urgent medical attention so far,” she added.

Indonesian authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

Babar Baloch, a regional spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, welcomed the reports of the boat’s landing.


Publish Date : 27 December 2022 07:29 AM

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