Jakarta – Amnesty International has urged the government to show support for Aceh residents after they rescued dozens of Rohingya refugees in Northern Aceh waters. Amnesty called this event "a victory for humanitarian solidarity" and demanded that the Indonesian authorities ensure immediate protection for the refugees.
"This good news from Aceh is very relieving. It showed [us] that Aceh residents uphold values of solidarity, but at the same time they respect the rights of Rohingya refugees, which are often neglected. But the efforts [to help Rohingya refugees] should not stop here, the government needs to provide thorough protections for them, after months of dangerous sea travel they need shelter," Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said in a statement on Thursday.
On Wednesday morning three Indonesian fishermen rescued 94 refugees, comprising 49 women, 15 men and 30 children, from a sinking cargo ship using their fishing boat, KM 2017.811.
They attempted to transport the group to Kuala Tanah Jambo Aye in Seunuddon district, North Aceh, but their engine broke, leaving them stranded 4 miles from the coast of Seunuddon.
Currently, the Rohingya refugees are being held in a temporary shelter in Lhokseumawe. They were said to be in weak condition and authorities were providing them with food.
Amnesty said the COVID-19 pandemic should push the government to provide basic needs for the refugees such as food, shelter, and medical services. It also urged the government to reactivate a regional dialogue to save other Rohingya refugees stranded at sea.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced that it will cooperate with the Aceh administration to quarantine the refugees.
UNHCR protection associate Oktina expressed his appreciation for locals and authorities who helped with the rescue.
"We're grateful for the rescue. At least they are safe here. They can get food and water after having been at sea for months. UNHCR is ready to help the regional administrations to carry out the quarantine process and with other necessities," Oktina said on Thursday as reported by tempo.co. (nal)