Boat adrift at sea for weeks carrying Rohingya refugees reaches Indonesia's Aceh

World Tuesday 27/December/2022 09:50 AM
Boat adrift at sea for weeks carrying Rohingya refugees reaches Indonesia's Aceh

Aceh: A boat carrying Rohingya refugees which was adrift for a month at sea has finally landed in Indonesia's Aceh, VOA news reported on Monday citing the two rights groups that have been tracking the vessel.

The boat which reached Aceh, Indonesia on Monday afternoon had over 180 ethnic Rohingya men, women and children in it. More than a dozen are reportedly dead. Moreover, on Sunday, a boat carrying 57 Rohingya men arrived in Aceh province, on the northern tip of Sumatra in the far west of the Indonesian archipelago. Notably, more than one million Rohingya people have sought refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.

According to human rights organisations, up to 20 passengers may have died throughout the journey up to that time. As on Monday, they were unable to confirm the death toll.

Some of the rescued passengers appear weary and gaunt in the videos which were obtained by VOA news. Last week, a Rohingya activist in the refugee camps told VOA that the captain of the boat had called him and said they were "starving to death."

On Thursday, the UN-appointed independent human rights expert, Tom Andrews, issued a statement urging governments to "immediately and urgently coordinate search and rescue for this boat and ensure safe disembarkation of those aboard before any further loss of life occurs".

"While many in the world are preparing to enjoy a holiday season and ring in a new year, boats bearing desperate Rohingya men, women and young children, are setting off on perilous journeys in unseaworthy vessels", said the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar.

In his plea to all regional governments for "a more humane regional response" to those fleeing the junta's brutal violence, including the Rohingya, Andrews called for "an absolute moratorium on any deportations or pushbacks to Myanmar" as well as harmonised search and rescues at sea.

This is just the latest in a series of dangerous voyages, said the UN expert.

Two weeks ago, a Vietnamese oil company vessel on its way to Myanmar rescued one sinking boat with 154 Rohingya refugees aboard, reported UN News.

"As they were close to Myanmar waters, they reportedly handed the group over to Myanmar authorities," he said.