Some 300 Rohingya refugees have been found on the beach in the Indonesian province of Aceh. They have been received by the police and Red Cross volunteers, reported to the local authorities.
It concerns 181 women, 100 men and 14 children
Junaidi Yahya, head of the local Red Cross in Aceh, hopes to accommodate the group in an evacuation centre as soon as possible. “At the moment, our biggest concern is the health of these people, especially because of the coronavirus,” Yahya said to Reuters news agency.
The Red Cross hopes that the refugees will soon be taken to a reception centre:
It is not the first time that a large group of Rohingya ventures the dangerous crossing to Indonesia. In June, fishermen from Aceh rescued almost a hundred refugees from a ramshackle boat off the coast, after the Indonesian authorities first threatened to send them back.
According to Chris Lewa, who is monitoring the situation of the Rohingya on behalf of human rights organisation The Arakan Project, the group may have left a refugee camp in Bangladesh in late March or early April as part of a larger group destined for Malaysia.
Probably in the months that followed they were sent away from the coast of that country and later also from Thailand by the authorities
After that, the group was probably divided by human smugglers on smaller boats. Some managed to get ashore in Malaysia. Others were detained by the smugglers on boats, because they would have paid too little
Overcrowded refugee camps
The Rohingya form a Muslim minority in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, where they are not seen by many Burmese as fully-fledged fellow citizens, but as illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Since the end of last year, Myanmar has been the subject of a trial at the International Court of Justice, in which the country is accused of committing genocide on Rohingya.
Nearly a million Rohingya have now fled Myanmar. Many went to overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they are easy prey for people smugglers.