A group of 58 Rohingya men at sea for more than a month landed at a fishing village in Indonesia’s Aceh Besar district early on Sunday, according to the local police chief.
Villagers who saw the group on a rickety wooden boat helped them on to Indrapatra beach at Ladong, a fishing village, and then reported their arrival to authorities, said Rolly Yuiza Away, the police chief.
“They look very weak from hunger and dehydration. Some of them are sick after a long and severe voyage at sea,” said Away, adding that the men received food and water from villagers and others as they waited for further instructions from immigration and local officials in Aceh.
At least three of the men were rushed to a health clinic for medical care, and others are also receiving various medical treatments, Away said.
The United Nations and other groups on Friday urged countries in South Asia to rescue a boat of Rohingya refugees that has been adrift for several weeks in the Andaman Sea.
“Reports indicate those onboard have now remained at sea for a month in dire conditions with insufficient food or water, without any efforts by states in the region to help save human lives,” the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said in a statement. “Many are women and children, with reports of up to 20 people dying on the unseaworthy vessel during the journey.”
On Monday, the UNHRC said a separate boat with 180 Rohingya was presumed drowned, and that 2022 could end up as one of the deadliest for the community forced to flee its home in Myanmar because of ethnic violence.
Away said one of the men on the boat that reached Ladong spoke some Malay and said they had been at sea for more than a month, aiming to land in Malaysia to seek a better life and work there.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the Myanmar military launched a clearance operation in response to attacks by a rebel group. Myanmar forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of homes.
Groups of Rohingya have attempted to leave the crowded camps in Bangladesh and take hazardous sea voyages to other countries in the region.
Malaysia has been a common destination for the boats, as traffickers promise the refugees a better life there. But many Rohingya refugees who land in Malaysia face detention.
Although Indonesia is not a signatory to the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention, the UNHCR said a 2016 presidential regulation provides a national legal framework governing the treatment of refugees on boats in distress near Indonesia and to help them disembark.
These provisions have been implemented for years, most recently last month when about 219 Rohingya refugees, including 63 women and 40 children, were rescued off the coast of North Aceh district on board two rickety boats.