Suspected Rohingya Refugee Boat Floating off Aceh Province, Indonesia

Mainly Muslim Malaysia is home to the second-largest number of Rohingya refugees followed by Bangladesh

A boat carrying around 100 suspected Rohingya refugees was floating many miles off the coast of Aceh province of Indonesia on Wednesday after getting rescued by fishermen, the authorities said.

Police mentioned that the boat, which was found by the fishermen on Sunday, had around 94 foreign nationals on board that include 79 women and also children.

Dicky Ronie, an official at the immigration office in nearby Lhokseumawe, said officials believed the foreign nationals were ethnic Rohingya, but investigations were ongoing. The disaster mitigation agency in Aceh, on the island of Sumatra, said authorities were planning to bring the boat ashore. Teuku Faizasyah, the spokesperson for Indonesia's foreign ministry, was not immediately available for comment.

Suspected Rohingya Refugees on Boat

Rohingya refugees
Wikimedia Commons

The arrival comes as survivors from another boat crammed with more than 300 Rohingya Muslims told Malaysian authorities that dozens on board had died and their bodies were thrown in the sea during a four-month voyage. The boat had landed on the Malaysian island of Langkawi on June 8, with 269 people abroad.

Mainly Muslim Malaysia is home to the second-largest number of Rohingya refugees after Bangladesh. They fled their homes in Myanmar following a military crackdown in 2017. Rohingya have made perilous voyages to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia for years, fleeing Myanmar or poverty in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

More than one million live in squalid conditions in sprawling camps in the south of Bangladesh, with as many as a dozen people sharing one shelter and scarce access to soap and water in some areas.

(With agency inputs)