UN investigates origin of Rohingya refugees in Indonesia

PIDIE, Indonesia — A United Nations agency is seeking information on the voyages of more than 100 Rohingya Muslim refugees who landed on an Indonesian beach this week and warned on Tuesday that there could be more. .

A distressing video that has gone viral on social media shows the Rohingya dehydrated and exhausted, weak and emaciated, many calling for help.

At least 185 men, women and children disembark from a rickety wooden boat at sunset Monday on Ujong Pie beach in Muara Tiga, a coastal village in Aceh’s Pidie district, local police chief Fauzi said.

“They were very weak from dehydration and exhausted after weeks of being at sea,” Fauzi said.

Muhammad Rafki Syukri, Protection Specialist at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the agency would provide Rohingya language translators and advice to determine if they belong to the UN’s group of 190 Rohingya. reported being adrift in a small boat in the Andaman Sea for a month.

“Given the protracted conflict and insecurity in their countries of origin, it is possible that the refugee movement to safety will continue to grow,” he said.

Chris Lewa, director of Project Arakan, which works in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya people, confirmed on Tuesday that the boat that landed Monday on Ujong Pie beach belonged to a group of 190 Rohingya.

But Syukri said UNHCR was unable to verify that information and was still coordinating with governments in the region.

“But we will continue to look for more information to make sure the data is factual,” Syukri told reporters on Tuesday while visiting Rohingya refugees at a school that was closed for the holiday season. Muara Tiga village.

Lewa told the AP via email that the arrivals were among five groups of Rohingya refugees who left Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh in late November in smaller boats to avoid being detected first by the local coast guard. when they were transferred to five larger boats for their respective voyages.

Wednesday and Thursday boats “finally docked north of Aceh, Indonesia, early Sunday and late Monday afternoon,” Lewa said, after weeks of her organization pleading with countries South and East South Asia help.

One of the refugees, who spoke some Malay and identified himself as Rosyid, told the AP news agency they left the camp in Bangladesh at the end of November and drifted on the high seas. At least 20 of us died on board due to high waves and became ill, and their bodies were thrown into the sea, he said.

Myanmar’s security forces have been accused of gang raping, killing and burning thousands of Rohingya homes, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh and other countries.

Malaysia is a popular destination for many refugees arriving by boat, but they have also been detained in the country.

Although neighboring Indonesia is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, UNHCR said the 2016 presidential regulation provides a legal framework governing the treatment of refugees in the world. The boat crashed near Indonesia and helped them get ashore.


Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.


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