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Embrace Rohingyan refugees: Human Rights groups to Indonesia

Embrace Rohingyan refugees: Human Rights groups to Indonesia

Jakarta: As boats carrying Rohingya refugees reached Indonesia after 113 days voyage, many Human Rights bodies have appealed to the country to not push back the 81 refugees who landed on Indonesia's Aceh coast.

"The 81 refugees have landed on Idaman Island in Aceh. We are told they are okay," said Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, which has researched the Rohingya issue for decades, while speaking to IANS. "I am keeping my fingers crossed and just hope Indonesia will not push them back or hand them over to Myanmar as Malaysia has often done," added Lewa.

"Until we know for sure that they are not being pushed back, the Rohingya are not 100 per cent safe there."

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) also appealed to the country to ensure that the refugees are 100 per cent safe in their new land. Asking for a coordinated effort in this regard, Brad Adams, HRW's Asia director said, "ASEAN leaders, having done almost nothing for years, should dramatically rethink their approach to the Rohingya crisis."

"A coordinated regional response is desperately needed to protect Rohingya in Myanmar, in refugee camps abroad, and at sea, while pressing Myanmar to take the steps necessary for them to return home safely." He added.

Numerous boats, each with hundreds of Rohingya asylum seekers, have been leaving for Southeast Asian destinations every year from Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, where refugee camps provide shelter to thousands of Rohingya Muslims who have fled from neighbouring Myanmar.

The boat that landed in Aceh had sailed on February 11 from Cox's Bazar carrying 90 Rohingya refugees, most of them women and children, with the hope of reaching Malaysia.

Of the 90 people that had set out on the voyage, eight were found dead, and one was missing, as the boat's engine failed four days after leaving Cox's Bazar and it ran adrift until Indian Coast Guards rescued it.

Indian authorities provided food and essential supplies to survivors but refused to let them set foot on their shores.

Bangladesh, too, denied re-entry to 81 survivors.

Over the last three months, international aid agencies and family members of those onboard have made repeated appeals to India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Malaysia for information about the fate of the survivors on the boat.

Dwi Prafitria, the spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Indonesia, has said that the refugees currently don't have a place to stay.

"We have to coordinate with the local government," she said.

The Rohingya are a minority group, most of whom are denied citizenship by Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which considers them illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are living in teeming camps in Bangladesh, including tens of thousands who fled after a deadly crackdown in 2017.

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TAGS:IndonesiaAceh coastRohingyan refugees
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