26 Rohingya refugees die trying to reach Indonesia

PIDIE, Indonesia (HPD) — At least 26 Rohingya Muslims have died after stranding for a month on the high seas on a dangerous voyage that brought others to Indonesia, a UN agency said Tuesday, adding the death toll is likely to rise. .

Exhausted women and children were among 185 people who arrived on a flimsy wooden raft Monday at a coastal village in Aceh’s Pidie district, authorities said. A harrowing video shared widely on social media showed dehydrated and exhausted Rohingya, many calling for help.

“They are very weak from dehydration and exhaustion after weeks at sea,” said local police chief Fauzi, who goes by one name.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that survivors told the agency that 26 people lost their lives on the journey.

One of the refugees, who gave his name as Rosyid, told The Associated Press that they left a camp in Bangladesh in late November and drifted across the open sea. He said at least “20 of us died on board due to high waves and sick, and their bodies were thrown into the sea.”

According to the UNHCR, more than 2,000 people have reportedly embarked on risky voyages in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal this year, and more than 200 have died.

UNHCR has also received unconfirmed reports from another boat that 180 people are missing and presumed dead.

Chris Lewa, director of Project Arakan, which works in support of Myanmar’s Rohingya, said those who arrived were among five groups of Rohingya who left refugee camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district in small boats to avoid detection. , before moving on to five larger boats for their respective voyages.

Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rape, murder and burning of thousands of homes belonging to Rohingya, sending them fleeing to Bangladesh and beyond.

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Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia, and Grant Peck from Bangkok.

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