The Rohingya men receive treatment in Indonesia The Rohingya men receive treatment in Indonesia 

Rohingyas rescued in Indonesia after weeks on open sea

Fifty-eight Rohingya men are rescued in Indonesia after drifting at sea possibly for weeks, just days after the UN raised the alarm over boats carrying refugees in the Indian Ocean.

By Alastair Wanklyn

Dozens of Rohingya men were rescued on Sunday on Indonesia's coast after drifting at sea possibly for weeks. The men were malnourished and dehydrated.

The 58 Rohingya men reached Indonesia aboard a dilapidated fishing boat with a broken engine.

Villagers sighted the boat and guided it to a beach in Aceh Province.

Photographs showed the boat beached, with one makeshift sail and a paddle.

The AP news agency quoted a local police chief as saying the men were weak from hunger and dehydration after a "long and severe" voyage at sea.

It is unclear how long the boat was at sea. It is almost 2,000 km from Bangladesh to Indonesia.

Fleeing persecution

On Friday, the United Nations raised the alarm over a boat that has been drifting for a month.

That boat has almost 200 people aboard, many of them women and children. Up to 20 of the occupants have died, the UNHCR refugee agency said.

In the past five years, over 700,000 Rohingya people have left Myanmar for Bangladesh. Many were expelled or fled attacks against the Muslim minority.

But in Bangladesh the refugee camps are full and conditions are poor.

Some people have attempted to sail to Malaysia, although many have been detained upon arrival there.

Regional response needed

The UN is urging Malaysia and other countries in the region to intercept the boats and give the refugees a welcome.

Last month, Indonesia intercepted two boats and rescued more than 200 Rohingya, half of them women and children.

Human rights campaign group Amnesty has called on Indonesia to lead a regional initiative to solve the refugee crisis.

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26 December 2022, 15:10