BANDA ACEH, Indonesia (HPD) — Dozens of hungry and weak Rohingya Muslim migrants were found Sunday on a beach in Aceh, Indonesia’s northernmost province, after several weeks at sea, authorities said.
The group of 58 men arrived in the morning at Indrapatra beach in Ladrong, a fishing village in Aceh Besar district, local police chief Rolly Yuiza Away said. Neighbors who saw the group of people in a rickety wooden boat helped them disembark and later reported their arrival to authorities, he added.
“They look very weak from hunger and dehydration. Some are sick after a long hard voyage at sea,” Away said. The men received food and water from local people and others while they waited for instructions from migration and local authorities in Aceh, she added.
At least three of the new arrivals were taken to a clinic for medical attention, and others received various medical treatments.
The United Nations and other groups called on South Asian countries on Friday to rescue up to 190 people believed to be Rohingya refugees aboard a small boat that has been adrift in the Andaman Sea for several weeks.
“Reports indicate that the people on board have been at sea for a month in poor conditions, without enough food and water, without any effort from the states of the region to help save human lives,” UNHCR said in a statement. UN refugee agency. “Many are women and children, and there are reports that up to 20 people have died on the unsafe vessel during the voyage.”
Away said it was not clear where the group arrived in Indonesia had set sail from or if they were among 190 Rohingya refugees adrift in the Andaman Sea. But one of the men, who spoke some Malay, said they had been at sea for more than a month and aspired to reach Malaysia to find a better life and work there.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched an eviction operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. Burmese security forces have been accused of mass rape, murder and burning down thousands of homes.
Groups of Rohingya have tried to leave the crowded camps in Bangladesh and travel by sea on dangerous journeys to other Muslim-majority countries in the region.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has been a regular destination for such trips, and smugglers promise refugees a better life there. But many Rohingya refugees arriving in Malaysia are detained.
Although Indonesia has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, UNHCR noted that a 2016 presidential rule provides a legal framework for treating refugees on ships in distress near Indonesia and helping them disembark.
Those clauses have been in place for years, including last month when some 219 Rohingya refugees, including 63 women and 40 children, were rescued from two dilapidated boats off the coast of North Aceh district.
“We urge the Indonesian government to rescue the ships and allow them to land safely,” said Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid. “We also urge the Indonesian government to lead a regional initiative to resolve the refugee crisis.”
The UN special envoy on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, on Thursday urged governments in South and Southeast Asia to “immediately and urgently coordinate a search and rescue of this ship and ensure the safe disembarkation of those on board before more lives are lost.”
“As many around the world prepare to enjoy a festive season and start a new year, boats carrying desperate Rohingya men, women and young children are embarking on perilous journeys in unsafe vessels,” Andrews said in a statement.
Associated Press writers Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia and Grant Peck in Bangkok contributed to this report.