Third batch of around 200 Rohingya arrive in Indonesia’s Aceh

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Around 200 Rohingya reached the shores of Indonesia’s Aceh province on Thursday, the head of the provincial fishing community said, the third boat to arrive in as many days and taking total arrivals over this period to about 600.

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.

The latest group of Rohingya refugees landed in Aceh’s Bireun region in the afternoon and comprised mostly of women and children, the head of local fishing community Miftah Cut Ade told Reuters.

Photos he shared appeared to show the Rohingya sitting huddling on the beach, facing the sea.

Up to 200 Rohingya landed in Aceh’s Pidie region on Wednesday and a day before that, 196 others arrived. Miftah said based on the Rohingya’s account, they had departed from Bangladesh.

Hundreds more had reached Aceh earlier this year, many having been at sea for months.

Nearly one million Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh in what U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi described as “the biggest humanitarian refugee camp in the world”.

Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry said the Southeast Asian country “has no obligation nor capacity to accommodate refugees, let alone to provide permanent solution”, underscoring that Jakarta is not a signatory of the UN refugee convention.

“We have also identified that Indonesia’s kindness in providing temporary shelter has been misused by people smugglers,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Lalu Muhamad Iqbal, said in a statement.

The recent arrivals come as Myanmar’s generals face their biggest test since seizing power in a 2021 coup, with insurgent groups gaining ground in several parts of the country in a coordinated offensive against the junta.

(Reporting by Ananda Teresia; Editing by Gayatri Suroyo and Bernadette Baum)