More than 500 Rohingya refugees land in Indonesia

Monday, Nov 20, 2023

BIREUEN, Indonesia: Three boats filled with more than 500 Rohingya refugees landed in Indonesia´s westernmost province on Sunday, a UN agency said, in one of the biggest arrivals since Myanmar launched a military crackdown on the minority group in 2017.

The mostly Muslim Rohingya are heavily persecuted in Myanmar, and thousands risk their lives each year on long and expensive sea journeys, often in flimsy boats, to try to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

United Nations refugee agency protection associate Faisal Rahman told AFP one boat had arrived in Aceh province´s Bireuen district with 256 people aboard, while at least 241 others arrived in Aceh´s Pidie region and a smaller boat carrying 36 arrived in East Aceh.

“They were found in several spots,” Rahman said on Sunday. Of the 256 aboard the Bireuen boat, 110 were women and 60 were children, he said.

It was the same boat that locals had pushed back out to sea on Thursday, leaving it stranded off the coast for several days, according to Rahman.

“It´s confirmed... because many people were identified by security officials during the landing,” he said. The latest arrivals mean more than 800 refugees have landed in Aceh province this week alone, after 196 arrived on Tuesday and 147 on Wednesday, according to local officials.