Hundreds of Rohingya refugees arrive in Indonesia looking for new opportunities
The refugees say they're seeking a better life than in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, where they fled military persecution across the border in Myanmar.
More than 100 weak and hungry Rohingya Muslim refugees were among the latest group to reach ashore in Indonesia on Sunday after a long and dangerous journey aboard a wooden boat.
The group of 184 people, including a pregnant woman and children, landed at the Kuala Gigieng beach in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh, which has already received more than 500 Rohingya last year. The refugees say they’re seeking a better life than in overcrowded camps in Bangladesh, where they fled military persecution across the border in Myanmar.
“In Bangladesh, there are no opportunities for Rohingya refugees. So we come here to Indonesia,” said Faisal, one of the refugees who uses only one name.
Fahmi Irwan Ramli, Banda Aceh city police chief, said the refugees appeared generally in good condition, but there was a pregnant woman and four were sick and being treated by doctors.
The U.N. refugee agency said it will determine their status in coordination with Indonesia’s government.
Fishermen on Saturday reported seeing three boats suspected to be carrying refugees, but only one landed on Sunday. The United Nations reported that 26 refugees died last month of dehydration and exhaustion after weeks at sea.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017. Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and burning thousands of Rohingya homes.
Most of the refugees leaving the camps by sea attempt to reach Muslim-dominated Malaysia, but end up in Indonesia along the way.
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