Rohingya Refugee Boat Capsizes Off Indonesia

A wooden boat transporting dozens of Rohingya Muslim refugees capsized at least 11 kilometers off the northernmost coast of Indonesia on Wednesday.

The refugees were sailing east when their boat started leaking and strong tides began pushing it toward Kuala Bubon Beach in Aceh province, according to a local resident who spoke with Agence France Presse (AFP). Once the boat capsized, the refugees were clinging to the overturned craft.

Local fishermen rescued six people from the overturned vessel, but survivors said others were carried away by strong currents. No fatalities have been confirmed.

“As soon as the fisherman’s boat approached them, they all got on the boat,” Nanda Ferdiansyah of a West Aceh fishing community told AFP. “As soon as they got onboard, the fisherman’s boat also sank because of overcapacity.”

The six survivors — four women and two men — are now in temporary shelter.

According to the UNHCR, from mid-November to late January, 1,752 refugees, mostly women and children, arrived in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra.

Rohingya refugees often flee Myanmar or overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh on flimsy boats. Nearly 1 million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 2017, many of them to escape a brutal counterinsurgency campaign by security forces in their homeland of Myanmar, whose democratically elected government was overthrown in a 2021 military coup.

Source: VOA

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