UNHCR requests Indonesia to save the lives of 250 Rohingya refugees on board a decrepit boat off the coast of Aceh. credit AFP
November 20, 2023
Beginning 17 November 2023, three boats carrying about 600 Rohingya refugees which sailed from Bangladesh reached the beaches of the Aceh province one after another in just three days.
The first two boats carrying 146 and 194 refugees respectively were allowed to land.
However, the third boat carrying about 250 refugees met resistance from locals and was pushed back out to the sea. The boat was sighted on Saturday (21.11.23) several miles off the coast of Indonesia’s westernmost region according to a local commander.
In a statement Friday, UNHCR called on Indonesia to facilitate the boat’s landing and provide lifesaving assistance to the refugees.
Indonesia, which is not a signatory to a 1951 refugee convention, says it is not compelled to accept arriving Rohingya refugees. Locals have complained of lacking the resources to absorb hundreds of refugees into their communities.
As of today, the where-about of the boat could not be determined. It is feared that the boat may soon lose its fuel and the passengers may have no food and water for their survival. There is real danger of loss of lives under this situation.
The ARNA would like to draw urgent attention of UNHCR, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the ASEAN and International Humanitarian Organisations to intervene in this dire situation and request the government of Indonesia to allow the refugee boat to land on humanitarian grounds.
The ARNA would also like to remind the international community that resumption of fighting and the serious situation prevailing in Rakhine state after the breakdown of temporary ceasefire between Myanmar military regime and rebel Arakan Army and the unpredictable, insecure and difficult situation prevailing in the Bangladesh refugee camps have compelled them to embark on this risky journey to search for a safe and better future.
Until and unless the core problem the refugees are facing in their homeland of Rakhine in Myanmar is solved this kind of tragedy will be repeated with the danger of loss of lives and misery.