Rohingya refugee boat lands in Indonesia after a month at sea

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia: A broken-down boat carrying 57 Rohingya refugees landed on Indonesia’s western coast on Sunday (Dec 25) after a month at sea, police said.

Thousands of the mostly Muslim Rohingya, heavily persecuted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, risk their lives each year on long, expensive sea journeys – often in poor-quality vessels – in an attempt to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

The wooden vessel with 57 men on board arrived around 8am local time (9am, Singapore time) on a beach in the westernmost Aceh province, local police spokesman Winardy told AFP.

“The boat had a broken engine and it was carried by the wind to a shore in Ladong Village in Aceh Besar (district),” Winardy, who goes by one name, said.

“They said they have been drifting at sea for a month.”

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

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

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

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