Almost three hundred Rohingyas arrived on the Indonesian mainland on Monday after probably six months at sea. The group is moored in Aceh province, authorities in the country report.
‘Rohingyas were held hostage by people smugglers’
The Rohingyas arrived at Lhokseumawe beach a little after midnight, having been spotted by local fishermen several kilometers offshore.
The 181 women, 102 men and 14 children are currently in a temporary location, according to the Red Cross. The organization hopes to place them in an evacuation center as soon as possible, but there are still concerns about the health of the Rohingyas, partly because of the corona pandemic.
The group may have left Bangladesh in late March or early April with Malaysia as its destination, human rights organization The Arakan Project said. Due to the corona pandemic, they were not allowed to come ashore in Malaysia and Thailand.
The Rohingyas who arrived in Indonesia on Monday were initially on a larger boat with more people. According to The Arakan Project, the people on board were divided over smaller boats at one point. The first vessels arrived in Malaysia and Indonesia in June.
The Rohingyas after arriving in the Indonesian town of Lhokseumawe. (Photo: Pro Shots)
The director of The Arakan Project says it seems that the smugglers were not ready to disembark the last Rohingyas because not everyone had paid enough. “They basically held them hostage on the boat,” she says.
Hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh in recent years because of oppression in Myanmar. In the neighboring country, they stay in huge refugee camps under bad conditions. That is why some are trying to reach other Southeast Asian countries with the help of people smugglers.