(Peureulak) At least 184 Rohingya refugees, many of them women and children, arrived in western Indonesia on Monday after being dropped off at sea by a boat and swimming to shore, authorities said .
Residents of the locality of Peureulak, in the province of East Aceh, alerted the police Monday morning when they discovered the group of 94 men, 70 women and 20 children.
“There was no boat on the beach when they arrived,” Nasri, an official from Peureulak, who like many Indonesians, has only one name, told AFP.
“Some of the refugees look weak, they probably haven’t eaten anything for days.”
Thousands of Rohingya risk their lives every year trying to reach Malaysia or Indonesia on long and expensive journeys aboard often precarious boats.
At least five members of this group were hospitalized and the others were taken to a mosque for shelter, care and food, he said.
An official from the East Aceh Social Affairs agency, Saharani, confirmed the number of arrivals to AFP.
According to one of the passengers, the group was dropped off at sea by the captain of the boat who ordered them to swim to shore.
“After that, the boat that carried us left immediately,” Rohingya refugee Ali was quoted by Indonesian news agency Antara as saying. Refugees from Burma were trying to reach Malaysia, he said.
The authorities are in discussion with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to help the refugees.
More than 2,000 Rohingya attempted the journey through Southeast Asia in 2022, according to UNHCR. The agency estimates that nearly 200 died or disappeared during this period during the perilous crossing.