Indonesia and Malaysia agree to help stranded migrants

About 500 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladeshis landed off the coast of Indonesia’s Aceh province hours before Malaysia and Indonesia issued a joint pledging help

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi boat people were rescued by fishermen off Indonesia's Aceh province on Wednesday, according to Indonesian search and rescue officials.

Local officials said that about 500 migrants, including 30 children and 26 women landed earlier on Wednesday in the Strait of Malacca, off Aceh province in Indonesia.

"In total we found around 500 people out at sea and they are being brought to land in smaller boats," said Khairul Nova of the national search and rescue agency.

Officials said that when the migrants were rescued, they were suffering from lack of food and water as well as disease illnesses.   

"Their condition is very weak. Many are sick, they told me that some of their friends died from starvation," said Teuku Nyak Idrus, a local fishermen involved in the rescue.

The rescue came hours before the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia issued a joint statement which says they will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the 7,000 migrants who are still stranded at sea.   

They will also offer them temporary shelter, and will assist them with "resettlement and repatriation" within a year, according to an announcement by Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Aman, following the Kuala Lumpur meeting which was held on Wednesday with his counterparts from Indonesia and Thailand.

"I urge all NGOs, of all races and religions to step forward to volunteer to help these Rohingya migrants," Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

"Even though they are a migrant community that is trying to enter the country illegally, and breaking immigration laws, their well-being should not be ignored." he added.

More than 1,500 Rohingya Muslim and Bangladeshi migrants reached in Aceh in recent days after people smugglers abandoned them in the sea.

Following concerns voiced by UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Washington’s over the refugees who were stranded in the sea last Sunday, Pope Francis also spoke of the plight of the “poor Rohingya from Myanmar” on Tuesday and made an analogy with Christian and ethnic Yazidi people brutalised by ISIS.


TRTWorld and agencies