Almost 200 Rohingya arrive by boat in Indonesia’s Aceh

By Hidayatullah Tahjuddin

JAKARTA (Reuters) -Almost two hundred Rohingya, most of them women and children, arrived by boat at Indonesia’s Aceh province on Tuesday, the chief of a local fishing community said, the latest batch of people to have fled Myanmar by sea this year.

Many members of the ethnic Rohingya Muslims, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, have for years boarded rickety wooden boats to escape to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia as well as Thailand.

Several hundred Rohingya arrived in Aceh earlier this year, and massive numbers have died at sea from disease, hunger and fatigue. Last year was one of the deadliest in a decade for such refugees, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has said.

Miftah Cut Ade, chief of the local fishing community in Aceh, told Reuters 196 Rohingya arrived on one large wooden boat in Aceh’s Pidie region, 128 of whom were children and women, adding they were “weak and in need of nutrition.”

Nearly one million Rohingya Muslims fled a military-led crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar in 2017 and now live in what U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi described as “the biggest humanitarian refugee camp in the world” in Bangladesh.

Residents provided food and water to the Rohingya, who were taken to a temporary shelter nearby, Miftah said.

A UNHCR official, Faizal Rahman, said the refugees were being moved to an existing evacuation site, Bina Raya, after consultations with the local government.

Photos shared by Miftah showed the Rohingya lying on the sand of the beach, surrounded by local residents.

“I’m from Kutupalong in Bangladesh. I came here with my family. There are four of us,” said a 22-year-old refugee, Nur Basyar, adding that he was sick during the voyage and was not sure how long it took.

Effendi, a local police chief, said his team was assisting on the ground.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Bernadette Baum)