On Tuesday, the largest group of Rohingya refugees in months, comprising nearly 200 individuals, including women and children, arrived in Indonesia’s westernmost province. The Rohingya, a persecuted minority from Myanmar, often undertake perilous sea journeys, braving long and expensive trips in fragile boats with the hope of reaching Malaysia or Indonesia.
The 196 refugees landed in a remote area of Aceh Province’s Pidie region, as reported by local navy commander Andi Susanto.
Upon arrival, some refugees immediately fled inland, with conflicting reports suggesting either ten or seven individuals sought refuge in the nearby hills. Marfian, a spokesperson for the local fishing community, speculated that these individuals might have been middlemen intentionally bringing refugees to the area.
Local authorities and residents provided assistance to the refugees, offering food and drink to those stranded on the beachside.
Photographs shared with AFP depicted weary refugees, including women cradling infants, waiting for aid on the beach. The UN refugee agency estimates that over 2,000 Rohingya have attempted the hazardous journey to Southeast Asian countries in 2022, with nearly 200 Rohingya reported dead or missing last year during such perilous sea crossings.
This incident follows a pattern of Rohingya refugees arriving in Indonesia via sea routes. In March, 184 Rohingya refugees reached the eastern Aceh town of Peureulak after being dropped at sea and compelled to swim ashore. The ongoing arrival of Rohingya refugees highlights the challenges and risks they face in their quest for safety and a better life in Southeast Asia.