Around 200 Rohingya refugees reach Indonesia: UN agency

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Around 200 Rohingya refugees arrived in Indonesia’s westernmost province by sea overnight, the United Nations refugee agency said Wednesday, taking the total arrivals in the last week to more than 1,000 members of the persecuted Myanmar minority.

The mostly Muslim Rohingya are heavily persecuted in Myanmar, and thousands risk their lives each year on long and expensive sea journeys, often in flimsy boats, to try to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

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“The mayor, he said 200. He informed us about the disembarkation. The team will depart to Sabang early tomorrow morning,” United Nations refugee agency protection associate Faisal Rahman told AFP, referring to a city in Aceh Province.

Members of the local community said the number could be higher, with estimates as high as 360 refugees landing, said Rahman.

Locals in Aceh last week turned away several boat arrivals from Bangladesh, saying they did not have the resources to accept the desperate refugees who in most cases have spent weeks at sea.

Images and footage seen by AFP showed the latest arrivals sat in rows on a beach in Aceh’s Sabang instead of being taken to shelter.

Rahman said the UNHCR team was trying to get there as soon as possible to ensure the arrivals received treatment.

He said the agency had appealed to Sabang Mayor Reza Fahlevi to find the refugees safe shelter.

“The situation in the field now is not good. The rejection virus has been spread to all people,” he said.

“There is a big chance that they will move the community to push them back to the sea, but let’s hope that is not happening.”

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