Rohingya refugee boat lands in Indonesia after a month at sea

A damaged boat carrying 57 Rohingya refugees landed on Indonesia’s western coast on Sunday after a month at sea, police said.

Thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya, widely persecuted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, risk their lives every year on long and expensive sea journeys, often on shoddy boats, in an attempt to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

The wooden boat with 57 men on board arrived around 08:00 local time (01:00 GMT) on a beach in the westernmost province of Aceh, local police spokesman told AFP, Winardy.

“The boat had a broken engine and the wind blew it off the coast of Ladong village in Aceh Besar (district),” said Winardy, who goes by one name.

“They said they’ve been adrift at sea for a month.”

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Winardy added that the police arrived at the beach after being informed by some neighbors that the boat had docked there.

He said four of the men on board were ill and had been taken to a hospital.

Telmaizul Syatri, the head of the local immigration office, said the refugees will be temporarily housed in a local government facility.

“We will coordinate with the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR so that it can be managed well,” Syatri said.

This is the third boatload of Rohingya refugees to arrive in Muslim-majority Indonesia in recent months.

Two boats carrying a total of 229 Rohingya landed in Aceh on November 15 and 16, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Sunday’s arrival comes after the UNHCR and Southeast Asian politicians called for the rescue of another boat carrying up to 200 Rohingya refugees, including women and children, which has been stranded at sea for several weeks.

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This vessel has been reported in waters near Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca, one of the busiest sea routes in the world.

UNHCR said last week it had been in the water since late November and had received reports of at least a dozen people dying on board. Those who remain on the ship have no access to food or water.

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