Indonesia to Reject Rohingya Refugees Stuck on Boat

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Indonesian authorities will help repair the boat that washed up on its shores with more than 100 Rohingya refugees, but will not allow passengers to seek asylum. The boat will be asked to leave, authorities told the news agency on Tuesday. Reuters.

Fishermen spotted the boat carrying about 120 men, women and children off the coast of Bireuen, Aceh, on Sunday.

The Rohingya are not Indonesian citizens, we cannot accept them as refugees. This is in line with government policy,” said Dian Suryansyah, a local navy official. He added that they would provide humanitarian aid, including food, medicine and water, before asking him to leave.

Indonesia has not ratified the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and is generally considered a transit country for those seeking asylum in third countries. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that the boat was experiencing engine failure and should be allowed to disembark.

Badruddin Yunus, a local fishing community leader, said the refugees had been at sea for 28 days and some fell ill and one of them died.

Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar have been sailing for years to countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia between November and April when the seas are calm. Despite calls for help from international human rights organizations, many were turned down.

More than 730,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in August 2017 after a crackdown on what the country’s military said included mass killings and rape of refugees. Human rights organizations have documented the killing of civilians and the burning of Rohingya villages.

Hundreds of Rohingya have reached Indonesia in recent years after being swept away at sea for months. [ka/ab]

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