Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Indonesia to let stranded Rohingya seek sanctuary

Indonesia to let stranded Rohingya seek sanctuary

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
At least 100 mostly women and children aboard a sticken wooden vessel off Aceh province were denied refuge in Indonesia. STR/AFP

Indonesia to let stranded Rohingya seek sanctuary

Indonesia on December 29 said it will let dozens of Rohingya refugees come ashore after protests from locals and the international community over its plan to push them into Malaysian waters.

At least 100 mostly women and children aboard a stricken wooden vessel off Aceh province were denied refuge in Indonesia, where authorities on December 28 said they planned to push them into the neighbouring Southeast Asian country after fixing their boat.

After a day-long meeting on December 29 between officials in the coastal town of Bireun, Jakarta backtracked and said the refugees’ boat would be towed to shore on humanitarian grounds.

“The decision was taken after considering the emergency condition of the refugees on that boat,” said Armed Wijaya, head of the national taskforce on refugees.

The Rohingya boat is now about 80km from Bireun and would be pulled ashore, he said without elaborating on the timing.

“As it is now in the middle of the pandemic, all refugees will undergo medical screening,” he said, adding that the taskforce will coordinate with related stakeholders to provide shelter and logistics for the refugees.

Indonesian authorities first spotted the wooden boat two days ago, stranded about 130km off the Indonesian coast, according to a local navy commander. Local fishermen had alerted them on December 25, one of them said.

On December 28, Amnesty International and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on the government to let the stranded group of Rohingya refugees land.

The earlier plan by authorities in Aceh to send the refugees into Malaysia also angered locals in Bireun, where a group of fishermen on December 29 organised a protest demanding authorities to instead allow the Rohingya to disembark.

“We saw videos of their condition on social media. They need water and food. They must be treated with kindness as human beings,” Bireun resident Wahyudi told AFP by telephone.

“We, Acehnese, used to have the same experience with the Rohingya. We were in a prolonged conflict. We fled crossing the sea and were helped by people from various countries such as Malaysia, Australia.”


  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,