Agencies, Banda Aceh, Aceh – Rohingya refugees received emergency medical treatment after a boat carrying nearly 200 people came ashore in Aceh on Monday, authorities said, in the fourth such landing in the country in recent months.
Each year thousands of the mostly Muslim Rohingya, heavily persecuted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, risk their lives on long, expensive sea journeys – often in poor-quality vessels – in an attempt to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.
The wooden vessel arrived at around 5:30 pm (1030 GMT) on a beach in Aceh, said local police spokesman Winardy.
"One hundred and eighty-five Rohingya immigrants landed in Pidie (district). The figure consists of 83 adult males, 70 adult females and 32 children," Winardy said in a statement.
The refugees were temporarily sheltered at a local facility, with health workers treating those who were sick, Winardy added.
Some appeared very weak and thin and were put on drips by medical staff, according to AFP journalists.
A health worker told AFP some were "suffering from severe dehydration. Some children were vomiting."
Details on the length and conditions of their journey were not immediately available, but one young arrival said they had set off from Bangladesh.
"We came from a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh in a hope that Indonesia will give us the opportunity of education," 14-year-old Umar Faruq said.
Marfian, a leader of a local fishing community on the scene not long after the refugees arrived, said that "some refugees landed in weak conditions".
"When they were at the shoreline, locals helped by giving them food," Marfian said.
He noted that in recent years some Acehnese fishermen had helped Rohingya boats come ashore but the latest boat was carried to land by the wind, as fishermen had become more reluctant to help.
Winardy underscored that authorities were coordinating on refugee response "considering their landing in Aceh has become more frequent".
Monday's boat landing in Aceh came a day after another vessel carrying 57 Rohingya refugees came ashore in the province after a month at sea.
In November, two boats carrying a total of 229 Rohingya landed in the same province, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR.
Relatively affluent Malaysia is a favoured destination for the refugees, but many land first in Muslim-majority Indonesia, seen as more welcoming.
UN agencies and human rights groups have called on states in the region for urgent help after several boats carrying Rohingya were reported adrift for weeks in the Indian ocean.
The UNHCR said over the weekend that some 180 Rohingya at sea for weeks were feared dead, after relatives said they'd lost contact and presumed none on board had survived.
The UNHCR said the vessel may have started to crack in early December before losing contact. It added it was not clear where the boat started, but three Rohingya men, including one whose family were onboard, said it set off from Bangladesh.
Nearly 200 Rohingya were already feared dead or missing at sea this year. "We hope against hope that the 180 missing are still alive somewhere," said UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch.
Thai authorities said four women and one man were found floating near Thailand's Surin island and another woman at Similan islands and were rescued by fishermen. Authorities had not yet confirmed their identities.
A local fisherman told Reuters he and his crew had rescued people hanging onto a floating water tank.
UNHCR's Baloch said 2022 was one of the worst years for dead and missing after 2013 and 2014, when 900 and 700 Rohingya died or went missing in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal after inter-communal violence forced them to flee.