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UNHCR pleads with Deli Serdang to find temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees

Jakarta Post - January 7, 2024

Apriadi Gunawan, Medan – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked the local administration in North Sumatra's Deli Serdang regency to find temporary shelter to accommodate the 157 Rohingya refugees who recently arrived in Karang Gading village, Labuhan Deli district.

"The UNHCR pleads with the Deli Serdang administration to [find] temporary shelter for Rohingya refugees stranded in Labuhan Deli district," UNHCR national program coordinator Oktina Hafranti said on Tuesday, during a coordination meeting on Rohingya refugees at the office of the Labuhan Deli district head.

She said the UNHCR would cover the costs of accommodation and logistics for the newly arrived Rohingya refugees.

Deli Serdang secretary Timur Tumanggor responded by saying that the administration had been unable to find such a facility.

"The Deli Serdang Social Affairs Agency and the Immigration [Directorate General] will cooperate on finding a proper shelter" for the refugees, he added.

Belawan Police chief Sr. Adj. Comr. Janton Silaban said the local police force would also make an effort to find a place that could accommodate the refugees temporarily while maintaining public order.

He also said the police had conducted a survey on the Rohingya refugees and distributed a circular to ensure public order following their arrival, adding that the police would not hesitate to enforce the law upon any indication of criminal activities in relation to the new arrivals.

"We haven't found any indication of crimes related to the Rohingya refugees in Deli Serdang," Janton said on Tuesday, and that police would continue to monitor the situation.

Around 157 Rohingya refugees arrived from Bangladesh on Saturday near a lighthouse in Karang Gading village, with the group comprising 49 men, 32 women and 76 children, according to the UNHCR.

The group made land in the village after their wooden boat started leaking while at sea, which was alleged to be sabotage committed by the boat's captain.

Surya Sarirah, a 50-year-old resident of Paluh Kurau village in Deli Serdang regency, said he saw the refugees at sea on Saturday evening, after he had heard about them from a fisherman in neighboring Kwala Besar village.

"I saw that the Rohingya refugees' wooden boat was sinking," Surya said on Monday in his police statement.

He added that after their boat sank, the Rohingya refugees spent the night in a forest in Karang Gading village.

At around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, villagers from nearby Kuala Besar pitched a blue tent to provide temporary shelter for the refugees.

Belawan Police chief Janton said up to three boats carrying Rohingya refugees were originally spotted as they sailed from Aceh.

Janton alleged that the captain of the boat that landed in Deli Sedang had intentionally caused a leak in the vessel, while an unidentified "middleman" helping to transport the refugees by sea had fled on one of the remaining vessels.

"We don't know where the two other boats went. Maybe they went to another country," he said. (ami)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2024/01/07/unhcr-pleads-with-deli-serdang-to-find-temporary-shelter-for-rohingya-refugees.htm