Over 240 Rohingya Refugees Kept Off Coast of Indonesia

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • An estimated 249 Rohingya refugees who reportedly left Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh nearly three weeks ago are adrift off the coast of Indonesia after residents in Bireuen and Muara Batu, in the northern Aceh province, met their boat with resistance on Thursday, preventing them from landing.

    • Residents stated on Friday that the boat was no longer visible from Aceh's shores. Community leader Saiful Afwadi told AFP that people are "fed up with" Rohingya refugees because many of them run away upon their arrival, citing the alleged presence of human traffickers.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    While Indonesia should be commended for its humanitarian service related to the first two boats, the nation has a moral duty, regardless of whether it signed onto the 1951 convention, to accept and give aid to the passengers of the third boat. These ships are filled with vulnerable women and children fleeing persecution who shouldn't be left adrift at sea.

    Narrative B

    Even the UN understands that these Rohingya refugees must remain in their shelters if they're to receive the support they need, as these groups often fall victim to human trafficking. Indonesia has long sought to help refugees, but but faced with an unmanageable amount of arrivals with limited support; it's not surprising that Acehnese communities have reached their limits.

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