Over 240 Rohingya Refugees Kept Off Coast of Indonesia
An estimated 249 Rohingya refugees who reportedly left Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh nearly three weeks ago are adrift off the coast of Indonesia after residents in Bireuen and Muara Batu, in the northern Aceh province, met their boat with resistance on Thursday, preventing them from landing....
An estimated 249 Rohingya refugees who reportedly left Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh nearly three weeks ago are adrift off the coast of Indonesia after residents in Bireuen and Muara Batu, in the northern Aceh province, met their boat with resistance on Thursday, preventing them from landing.1
Residents stated on Friday that the boat was no longer visible from Aceh's shores. Community leader Saiful Afwadi told AFP that people are 'fed up with' Rohingya refugees because many of them run away upon their arrival, citing the alleged presence of human traffickers.2
This would be the largest single-day arrival of Rohingya refugees in Aceh since Sept. 7, 2020, when 297 people landed in Kota Lhokseumawe. At least 343 Rohingya disembarked in the province in two separate on Tuesday and Wednesday, prompting authorities to accommodate them in temporary shelters.3
A spokesman for the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued on Thursday that since the country is not part of the 1951 Refugee Convention, it's not obligated to accept the refugees. He added that many parties to the convention have 'ironically' closed their doors.4
The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, however, has urged all states to enhance regional coordination to save lives at sea and avoid an even greater tragedy, regardless of their accession to the 1951 Refugee Convention.5
More than 700K Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar since a military crackdown in 2017 to allegedly overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh. Some of them have left the camps by sea to try to reach Malaysia, with many ending up in Indonesia.6
Narrative A, as provided by UNHCR Indonesia. While Indonesia should be commended for its humanitarian service related to the first two boats, the nation has a moral duty, regardless of whether it signed onto the 1951 convention, to accept and give aid to the passengers of the third boat. These ships are filled with vulnerable women and children fleeing persecution who shouldn't be left adrift at sea.
Narrative B, as provided by Antara News. Even the UN understands that these Rohingya refugees must remain in their shelters if they're to receive the support they need, as these groups often fall victim to human trafficking. Indonesia has long sought to help refugees, but but faced with an unmanageable amount of arrivals with limited support; it's not surprising that Acehnese communities have reached their limits.