Police said a wrecked boat carrying 57 Rohingya refugees landed on the western coast of Indonesia on Sunday after a month at sea.
Thousands of predominantly Muslim Rohingyas, brutally persecuted in Buddhism-dominated Myanmar, risk their lives every year on long and costly sea voyages – often on substandard boats – in an attempt to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.
The wooden boat with 57 men on board arrived around 8:00 local time (1:00 GMT) at a beach in the westernmost province of Aceh, Vinardi, a local police spokesman, told AFP.
“The boat’s engine broke down and was blown ashore in the village of Ladong in Aceh Besar (district),” said Winardi, who goes by the same name.
“They said they had been drifting at sea for a month now.”
Winardi added that police arrived at the beach after some locals reported that a boat had docked there.
He said the four men on board were sick and were taken to the hospital.
Telmaizul Syatri, head of the local immigration office, said the refugees would be temporarily housed in the local government building.
“We will be coordinating with the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR to deal with this,” Syatri said.
This is the third boatload of Rohingya refugees to arrive in Indonesia in recent months.
According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), two boats carrying 229 Rohingyas landed in Aceh on 15 and 16 November.
Sunday’s arrival comes after UNHCR and Southeast Asian politicians called for the rescue of another ship carrying up to 200 Rohingya refugees, including women and children, that had been stranded at sea for several weeks.
The vessel was reported to have been in waters close to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea and the Strait of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.
Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it had been in the water since late November and it received reports that at least a dozen people had died on board. Those who remain on the boat do not have access to food or water.