Indonesian fishermen on Tuesday spotted a boat carrying Rohingya refugees off the country's northwestern coast, sparking calls for urgent rescue efforts, Anadolu Agency has reported.
The boat was seen in the Malacca Strait, some 80 to 100 miles near the Aceh province's waters, according to Miftach Cut Adek, deputy secretary general of Aceh Sea Commander.
He told Anadolu Agency that the refugees were on their way to Malaysia.
cannot confirm how many of them aboard, but they are on a large boat," he said,
adding that the fishermen were too far away from the refugee boat to approach
it. Fishermen usually help them [refugees] when they get nearer to land."
"We've received reports that border patrols have instructions to turn these refugees away. This is unconscionable," he said, adding that pushing the boat back would violate the country's international obligations.
Hamid said that ASEAN - Association of Southeast Asian Nations - countries are failing to help Rohingya who have fled persecution in Myanmar and the hardships of refugee camps in Bangladesh. "The Rohingya community's suffering is a regional issue in need of a humane regional response in line with international law," he added.
Indonesia set an example for regional counterparts when it allowed Rohingya ships onto its shores twice this year, according to Hamid.
In September, Indonesia took in 297 Rohingya refugees who landed in Lhokseumawe city in Aceh province, after allowing 99 Rohingya disembark in North Aceh earlier in June.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
The Rohingya Muslims are a stateless Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Maynmar, previously known at Burma, was part of Indian sub-continent. It was separated by Britain in 1937, only ten years prior to the division of Indian sub-continent into India and Pakistan in 1947.
Described by the United Nations in 2013 as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world, the Rohingya population is denied citizenship under the 1982 Myanmar nationality law.
They are also restricted from freedom of movement, state education and civil service jobs.
Prior to the 2015 Rohingya refugee crisis and the military crackdown in 2016 and 2017, the Rohingya population in Myanmar was around 1.1 to 1.3 million. They reside mainly in the northern Rakhine townships, where they form 80-98% of the population.
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