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Indonesian fishermen rescue Rohingyas adrift on boat

Indonesian fishermen rescue Rohingyas adrift on boat
Local fisherman help ethnic-Rohingya people as they arrive on Lancok Beach, North Aceh, Indonesia, Thursday. (AP)
JAKARTA, JUN 25 (IANS) | Publish Date: 6/25/2020 1:27:09 PM IST

Indonesian fishermen have rescued nearly 100 Rohingya refugees adrift on a boat near the coastal province of Aceh, weeks after a similar incident in Malaysia earlier this month, police said on Thursday.

According to the police, the boat’s engine had stopped working and it seemed to be sinking with 30 minors, 49 women and 15 men onboard when it was spotted by three Indonesian fishermen on Wednesday around four miles north of the island of Sumatra, reports Efe news.

However, the number of people onboard has varied in reports by different sources.

The fishermen alerted the local authorities and proceeded to rescue the Rohingya, who originally set sail from Myanmar and are currently in the waters close to the Seunuddon beach waiting to be brought to land, according to the police.

A police spokesperson told local media outlets that a special team had been formed to examine the health of the refugees and find temporary lodgings for them.

In early June, Malaysian coastguards had rescued 269 Rohingya who were also fleeing from Myanmar on a vessel near the northwestern island of Langkawi, where they remain in detention.

Those rescued in Malaysia told the authorities that dozens of other passengers had died on the way.

The recent rescue efforts resemble the 2015 refugee crisis when hundreds of Rohingya were left adrift on boats in terrible conditions after a human trafficking network was dismantled in Thailand and Malaysia.

The route became less frequented subsequently.

At that time, it was estimated that more than a million Rohingya lived in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, but in August 2017 the Myanmar Army launched a military campaign against the mostly Muslim minority community, triggering a massive exodus.

The military operation, which has led to the Myanmar government being accused of genocide in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, resulted in around 725,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Myanmar does not recognize the Rohingya as citizens, having considered them to be Bengali immigrants and subjecting them to discrimination - including restrictions on their freedom of movement - for years.

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