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Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Indonesian rescuers have terminated the search for Rohingya refugees lost at sea following the capsizing of their vessel, notwithstanding survivor accounts suggesting dozens were swept away.

The decision, announced on Friday, follows a dramatic rescue operation the previous day where 69 Rohingya, stranded at sea for weeks, were saved before their boat overturned, with many found clinging to the overturned hull.

Originating from Myanmar, the Rohingya, predominantly Muslim, face severe persecution, prompting thousands to embark on perilous sea journeys annually, often on precarious vessels, in attempts to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

Muhammad Fathur Rachman, a spokesperson for the search and rescue agency in Aceh, confirmed the search’s conclusion on Thursday, asserting that all Rohingya refugees atop the boat had been rescued.

Notably, the absence of a passenger manifest prompted the cessation of search efforts, as clarified by Rachman.

Survivors’ estimates suggested around 150 individuals were aboard the vessel, as relayed by West Aceh fishing community secretary-general Pawang Amiruddin.

While some survivors have been accounted for, local fishermen and officials indicate the likelihood of additional missing persons. However, the absence of conclusive information, coupled with assessments regarding the boat’s capacity, influenced the decision to conclude the search.

At least eight refugees required hospitalization for dehydration, with others relocated to a temporary shelter near Meulaboh, the capital of West Aceh district.

The refugees, hailing mostly from Bangladesh, had set sail with hopes of reaching Malaysia via Indonesia, illustrating the lengths many Rohingya go to in search of safety and stability.

Despite sympathetic gestures from locals, exemplified by donations of food and shelter, pockets of resistance towards Rohingya arrivals have emerged, reflecting broader tensions surrounding resource allocation and societal integration.

The recent influx of Rohingya refugees into Indonesian provinces, particularly Aceh and North Sumatra, represents a significant humanitarian challenge, highlighting the ongoing plight of this persecuted minority group.

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