About 250 Rohingya refugees in Indonesia sent back to sea

About 250 Rohingya refugees in Indonesia sent back to sea

JAKARTA (AFP) : About 250 Rohingya refugees in an overcrowded wooden boat have been turned away from western Indonesia and sent back to sea, residents said Friday.

The group of around 250 from the persecuted Myanmar minority arrived off the coast of Aceh province on Thursday but angry locals told them not to land the boat. Some refugees then swam ashore and collapsed with exhaustion on the beach.

After they were forced to return to the decrepit boat, it traveled dozens of kilometers to the coast of North Aceh, where the refugees landed on a beach. But locals again forced them back to the boat and out to sea late Thursday.

By Friday, the vessel, which some on board said had sailed from Bangladesh about three weeks ago, was no longer visible from where it had landed on North Aceh’s shores, residents said.

Thousands from the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority risk their lives each year on long and expensive sea journeys, often in flimsy boats, to try to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

“We’re fed up with their presence because when they arrived on land, sometimes many of them ran away. There are some kinds of agents that picked them up. It’s human trafficking,” Saiful Afwadi, a traditional community leader in North Aceh, said on Friday.