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Around 50 Rohingya Muslims land in North Sumatra

Reuters - May 24, 2024

Jakarta – Around 50 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in North Sumatra province, an official at the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday, the latest wave of arrivals who have drawn a sometimes hostile reception in the Southeast Asian country.

UNHCR is coordinating with its local partners and authorities to gather more details on the group – who appeared to be made up of women and children – and to organise aid, senior communications assistant Yanuar Farhanditya told Reuters.

Rohingya face persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar but refugees have experienced increasing hostility and rejection in Indonesia as locals grow frustrated at the numbers of boats arriving.

State news agency Antara quoted police as saying the latest group arrived by boat in Langkat area of North Sumatra on Wednesday and were found by the locals before being taken to a nearby clinic for health checks and given food and water.

In December, more than 140 Rohingya arrived in Deli Serdang, another area in North Sumatra. Since last year, arrivals of Rohingya in Indonesia or neighbouring Malaysia, have increased, especially from November to April when the seas are calmer.

More than 2,300 Rohingya arrived in Indonesia last year, data from UNHCR showed, more than the combined total of arrivals in the previous four years.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rohingya activists accused a Myanmar ethnic armed group of displacing thousands of the persecuted minority in western Rakhine state, after the United States said it was troubled by increasing violence.

Clashes have rocked Rakhine since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked junta forces in November, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since a military coup in 2021.

The AA says it is fighting for more autonomy for the ethnic Rakhine population in the state, which is also home to around 600,000 members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Rakhine in 2017 during a crackdown by the military that is now the subject of a United Nations genocide court case.

A joint statement released by several Rohingya organisations based abroad said AA fighters forced Rohingya residents to leave the town of Buthidaung last week and then burned and looted their homes.

It said the Rohingya were then directed by the fighters into areas controlled by the AA.

The statement called for the AA to end "forced displacement and human rights violations" against the Rohingya.

The AA said it had seized Buthidaung last week, the latest victory it has claimed against the junta in Rakhine state.

It said it had warned residents of the town to leave and had subsequently been "assisting people in moving to safer areas" but did not give any details.

It accused the junta of destroying Buthidaung and of inciting "racial and religious violence" by recruiting "Bengali Muslims" to fight the AA.

Rohingya view the word "Bengali" as a slur that implies they are interlopers in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/world/2024/05/24/around-50-rohingya-muslims-land-in-north-sumatra.htm