Indonesia rescues 20 Muslim Rohingya adrift off Aceh
Indonesian fishermen rescued a wooden boat carrying 20 hungry, weak Rohingya Muslims on Tuesday after it was found adrift off Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh, an official said.
The group of men and boys was discovered on the rickety boat about 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) off the coast, said Syahrial, the head of East Aceh’s local disaster mitigation office.
Syahrial, who goes by a single name, said it wasn’t clear where the group had traveled from or where they were heading.
An outbreak of violence that began in 2012 prompted thousands of Rohingya to flee Myanmar by sea to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. A fresh crisis last year sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing by land to Bangladesh.
The people who were found Tuesday were brought ashore and placed in a navy shelter house in the Kuala Idi fishing port of East Aceh district while awaiting identification by Indonesian immigration officials.
The group, ranging in age from 14 to 28, were weak from hunger and dehydration after a 15-day voyage, Syahrial said, adding that villagers donated clothes, food and drinking water.
“We could not yet communicate much with them as none of them speak English or Malay,” Syahrial said.
Some 300 Rohingya are still being sheltered in Aceh. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, is a strong supporter of the Rohingya cause.