By Pizaro Gozali Idrus,Erric Permana, Anadolu Agency

Assistance provided after authorities, fishermen found refugees off Seunuddon beach, says foreign minister

Indonesia has provided emergency assistance to 94 Rohingya refugees stranded off the Aceh province in the country’s northwest, the foreign minister said on Thursday.

In a virtual news conference, Retno Marsudi said that emergency aid was provided right after authorities and fishermen found the stranded Rohingya.

The refugees consist of 49 women, 30 children and 15 men.

However, the minister did not reveal any further plans for the stranded refugees.

Marsudi said she would cooperate with other countries in the region to conduct early detection and to prevent Rohingya from making dangerous trips from their home countries.

She stressed that the repatriation of Rohingya was the key to solve the problem.

Amnesty calls for Rohingya safety

Amnesty International called on the Indonesian government to help rescue the Rohingya refugees.

“We urge Indonesian authorities to help ensure the rescue, disembarkation and protection of refugees,” Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said in a statement on Thursday.

Usman urged Indonesian authorities to provide basic needs such as food, clothing, clean water and decent temporary shelter, emphasizing that there were many children among the refugees.

Meanwhile, a Malaysian Muslim organization called on Indonesian authorities to save the lives of Rohingya refugees and help ensure their safety.

“They were seen on a wrecked motorboat, could barely survive, and cried for help,” said Mohamad Azmi Abdul Hamid, president of Shura Council of Malaysian Islamic Organizations.

Hamid said Indonesian authorities need to bring refugees to immigration office.

“Bringing refugees to the immigration center is the right thing to do,” he told Anadolu Agency on Thursday

Hamid added that he supported Retno’s call on member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to help ensure safety for Rohingya refugees.

On Wednesday, three local fishermen claimed to have seen passengers in a wrecked motorboat, barely staying afloat, and crying for help.

Local police said the boat was still in the open sea, and a joint force was coordinating with various parties for a rescue mission.

Based on Anadolu Agency’s observation on Thursday afternoon, the refugees were allowed to land at the insistence of local residents who were concerned about the condition of children on the boat.

Known for its beaches and diving sites, Aceh is a semi-autonomous Indonesian province on the northwest tip of Sumatra island.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta.