Over 500 Rohingya, Bangladeshis land on Indonesia shore

May 10, 2015 | By | Reply More

Apr 10, – Steve Hamilton, deputy chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, said his teams were racing to the Aceh province sub-district of Seunuddon, where the boats landed. He said four boats were found with more than 500 people on board, adding that three had apparently been abandoned by the smugglers and one ran out of fuel.

Indonesia RohingyaBoats carrying more than 500 Bangladeshis and members of Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim community washed ashore in western Indonesia on Sunday, with some of the people in need of medical attention, officials and nonprofit organizations said.

Indonesian authorities said the migrants were taken to a police station and mosques, where they were being given care.

A man who was on one of the boats said they left Myanmar for Malaysia — home to a large population of Rohingya — two months ago.

“We just wanted to leave because the situation in Burma is no longer conducive for us to stay,” said the man, Muhammad Juned, referring to Myanmar by its previous name.

Risky Hidayat, from Indonesia’s National Search and Rescue Agency, said some migrants mentioned that there was another boat with an unspecified number of people on it still at sea in the same area.

Rohingya Muslims have for decades suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in Myanmar.

Attacks on the religious minority by Buddhist mobs in the last three years have sparked one of the biggest exoduses of boat people since the Vietnam War, sending 100,000 people fleeing, according to Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, which has monitored the movements of Rohingya for more than a decade.

The first stop is almost always Thailand, where up until recently the migrants were held in jungle camps. From there, they continue on to third countries only after brokers collect “ransoms” from family members and friends. Those who cannot pay are sometimes beaten, killed or left to die.

But tactics started changing in November as Thai authorities began cracking down on smuggling networks — a move apparently aimed at appeasing the U.S. government as it prepares to release its annual Trafficking in Persons report next month. Last year, Thailand was downgraded to the lowest level, putting it on par with North Korea and Syria.

Since May 1, police have unearthed two dozen bodies from shallow graves in the mountains of southern Thailand, the apparent victims, they say, of smuggling rings.

Now most fleeing Rohingya are being held in large ships off the Thai-Malaysian coasts or in nearby international waters, said Lewa, who estimates that 7,000 to 8,000 migrants are currently stranded. “Tight security” is preventing brokers from bringing them to shore, she said.

Severely confined and with limited access to food and clean water at sea, the migrants’ health is inevitably deteriorating quickly, she said, adding that dozens of deaths have been reported in the last few months.

It was not immediately clear how the migrants got to land in Indonesia. Some were weak due to lack of food and water, Lewa said.

Press journalist for HRO media – Norberto Lluch reports.

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Category: International

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