Over 200 Rohingya adrift at sea safely reach Indonesia, 26 dead: UN

Majority of the rescued are women, children, says UN refugee agency.

Over 200 Rohingya adrift at sea safely reach Indonesia, 26 dead: UN

Another 232 Rohingya people safely reached ashore in northwestern Indonesia over the past few days after they took a risky sea journey to flee Bangladesh’s cramped refugee camps weeks ago, the UN refugee agency said on Tuesday.

The agency said Indonesian fishermen and local authorities rescued and disembarked two groups of Rohingya, including 58 on Sunday and 174 on Monday. The majority of the rescued were women and children.

“The UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is relieved to see more than 200 desperate people being brought ashore to safety, in north-west Indonesia over the past few days. Many among them are believed to have been adrift for at least a month, without any help before being rescued,” it said in a written statement.

“We welcome this act of humanity by local communities and authorities in Indonesia,” said Ann Maymann, UNHCR representative in Indonesia.

Citing the rescued Rohingya as saying, the UNHCR said 26 people died during the long journey due to dire conditions onboard.

Those rescued are exhausted and dehydrated after a month of being adrift in regional seas, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR said it is attending to those rescued, together with local authorities and humanitarian partner staff, as many require urgent medical attention for their condition to be stabilized.

Why do Rohingya take perilous journey?

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Rohingya refugees living in squalid makeshift tents in Bangladesh said mainly frustration is prompting them to take such life-risking moves.

“We are here considered as forcibly displaced nationals of Myanmar without any refugee status. Our children are being grown up without proper education. In this restricted environment in Bangladesh, we are scared to become a lost generation in near future,” said Amir Ali, a Rohingya-educated young man.

He also said there is no green light for peaceful and dignified repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar’s Rakhine state anytime soon.

“So how can we wait just to be a part of a leaderless nation?”

Uttering almost the same, some other Rohingya also called on world leaders to ensure sustainable repatriation of them with citizenship rights that the Myanmar military junta has suspended.

“International human trafficking gangs in collaboration with their Bangladeshi cohorts frequently target us and prompt us to move to a third country illegally just taking the advantage of our helplessness,” a Rohingya community leader told Anadolu Agency requesting anonymity.

According to the UNHCR, more than 2,000 people are reported to have taken risky sea journeys in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal this year and nearly 200 have reportedly died.

The refugee agency also said it received unconfirmed reports that another boat with some 180 people aboard is still missing, with all passengers believed to be dead.

“Indonesia has helped to save 472 people in the past six weeks from four boats, showing its commitment and respect of basic humanitarian principles for people who face persecution and conflict,” said the statement.

Bangladesh is currently hosting over 1.2 million Rohingya in 33 cramped camps in the southern border district of Cox’s Bazar, as most of them fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.

Hüseyin Demir

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