In­done­sian fish­er­men res­cue nearly 100 Ro­hingya refugees in Aceh

Iran Daily - - Society -

In­done­sian fish­er­men res­cued nearly 100 Ro­hingya refugees, in­clud­ing 79 women and chil­dren, in Aceh Prov­ince af­ter of­fi­cials said they were plan­ning to push them back out to sea.

Coun­tries around South­east Asia have grown in­creas­ingly re­luc­tant to ac­cept refugee boats as they bat­tle the novel coro­n­avirus, but the Acehnese fish­er­men told Reuters that res­cu­ing the Ro­hingya was a moral duty, Reuters re­ported.

“It is noth­ing more than a sense of hu­man­ity and part of our tra­di­tion in the north Aceh fish­er­men com­mu­nity,” said lo­cal fish­er­man Ham­dani Ya­cob near the town of Se­unud­don in north­ern Aceh. “We hope that the refugees will be looked af­ter in our vil­lage.”

Au­thor­i­ties in Aceh con­firmed the refugees had been taken ashore on Thurs­day and pro­vided tem­po­rary hous­ing. The fish­er­men had res­cued them ear­lier in the week and they were an­chored just off the coast, but of­fi­cials had said they planned to push them back out to sea with a new boat, ga­so­line and food.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ca­pit­u­lated fol­low­ing protests from the lo­cal fish­er­men.

Im­ages from a beach in the Se­unud­don showed peo­ple from the lo­cal com­mu­nity towing the Ro­hingya boat to shore and help­ing to carry ema­ci­ated chil­dren onto land.

“If the govern­ment is in­ca­pable, us the com­mu­nity will help them, be­cause we are hu­man be­ings and they (the Ro­hingya refugees) are hu­man too and we have a heart,” an­other lo­cal fish­er­man, Syai­ful Amri, told Reuters.

Flee­ing per­se­cu­tion in Myan­mar and refugee camps in Bangladesh, the Ro­hingya have for years boarded boats be­tween Novem­ber and April, when the seas are calm, to get to South­east Asian coun­tries in­clud­ing Malaysia, Thai­land and In­done­sia.

The cri­sis has wors­ened this year as re­gional states have shut their doors amid the coro­n­avirus pan­demic, leav­ing some boats drift­ing for weeks with hun­dreds of Ro­hingya aboard.

Scores of them have died as sup­plies have run out.

Us­man Hamid, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional in In­done­sia, praised the de­ci­sion to bring the refugees to land.

“To­day’s dis­em­barka­tion of Ro­hingya refugees is a mo­ment of op­ti­mism and sol­i­dar­ity. It’s a credit to the com­mu­nity in Aceh who pushed hard and took risks so that these chil­dren, women and men could be brought to shore. They have shown the best of hu­man­ity,” he said.

ANTARA FOTO/REUTERS Lo­cals evac­u­ate Ro­hingya refugees from a boat at a coast of North Aceh, In­done­sia, on June 25, 2020.

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