ACEH, Indonesia: In a significant development, three boats carrying more than 500 Rohingya refugees arrived in Indonesia’s Aceh Province, marking one of the largest arrivals since Myanmar initiated a military crackdown on the minority group in 2017.
The Rohingya, facing severe persecution in Myanmar, continue to risk perilous sea journeys, often in fragile boats, with the hope of reaching Malaysia or Indonesia.
The United Nations refugee agency reported that one boat, initially pushed back to sea by locals in Bireuen district, eventually landed with 256 people on board. Another boat carrying at least 239 refugees reached Aceh’s Pidie region, and a smaller vessel with 36 individuals arrived in East Aceh. Notably, the boat in Bireuen had been stranded off the coast for several days before being allowed to dock.
The recent influx adds to the 800 refugees that landed in Aceh Province during the week, following the arrival of 196 on Tuesday and 147 on Wednesday. The Rohingya crisis persists, with thousands attempting the dangerous sea journey to Southeast Asian countries. In 2022 alone, over 2,000 Rohingya are believed to have undertaken this risky voyage, according to the UNHCR.
The refugees, predominantly women and children, are currently held at temporary shelters awaiting decisions from authorities. Despite facing uncertainties about their fate, they are reported to be in relatively good health. The local community and various institutions will play a crucial role in determining the refugees’ future.
The Rohingya crisis remains a dire humanitarian challenge, with UNHCR estimates revealing that nearly 200 Rohingya died or went missing last year during hazardous sea crossings. The international community continues to grapple with finding sustainable solutions to address the plight of the Rohingya, who endure persecution and hardship in their quest for safety and refuge.