In­done­sia res­cues 20 Mus­lims off Aceh

The Myanmar Times - - Asean Focus -

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 kilo­me­tres 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 trav­elled from or where they were head­ing. An out­break of vi­o­lence that be­gan in 2012 prompted thou­sands of Mus­lims to flee Myan­mar by sea to Thai­land, Malaysia and In­done­sia. A fresh cri­sis in Rakhine State last year sent hun­dreds of thou­sands of Mus­lims 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 Rakhine Mus­lims are still be­ing shel­tered in Aceh. In­done­sia is the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tion. – AP

Photo: AP

Mus­lim men who were res­cued by lo­cal fish­er­men sit on the ground in Kuala Idi, Aceh prov­ince, In­done­sia, on Tues­day.

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