Indonesian police and fishermen launch patrols to intercept Rohingya fishing boats

Indonesian police and fishermen launch patrols to intercept Rohingya fishing boats



Indonesian police and fishermen said on Saturday they had begun patrolling parts of the country’s westernmost province to prevent Rohingya refugees from landing on its beaches, following the arrival of about 1,100 members of Myanmar’s persecuted ethnic minority this month. Announced.

Thousands of people from the predominantly Muslim minority risk their lives every year to reach Malaysia and Indonesia by sea from refugee camps in Bangladesh, often in flimsy boats. .

This month, as navigation conditions eased, more than half a dozen boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya people from Bangladesh arrived in Aceh province, including one that local residents tried to put back into the sea.

Police in East Aceh, a province of more than 350,000 people where 36 Rohingya arrived on Sunday, said they were now imposing 24-hour patrols.

“We have directed police stations with jurisdiction over coastal areas to strengthen surveillance in both coastal areas and Malacca Strait waters to prevent Rohingya migrants from entering the country,” the force said in a statement.

“Police are on patrol 24/7 to prevent Rohingya migrants from landing in East Aceh,” said police chief Andy Rahmanshah.

In North Aceh, Tanaw Anoye village chief Amiruddin Ismail sent patrols on Friday night after fishermen reported seeing Rohingya boats two miles (3 kilometers) off the coast of Muara Batu town. He told AFP that it had been strengthened.

He said fishermen, local police and military units all patrolled along the coast until the suspicious boat was out of sight.

Nahardin, head of a fishing community in Dewantara district in North Aceh province, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, confirmed to AFP that he had carried out the patrols.

“We immediately carried out surveillance along the coastline. We asked the fishermen to keep an eye on them while they were out at sea,” he said.

Experts have expressed concern that Indonesia will be the next country after Malaysia, Thailand and India to fortify its borders to prevent Rohingya from landing.

Many Acehnese have long been sympathetic to the plight of their fellow Muslims.

But some say their patience is being tested as the Rohingya consume scarce resources and sometimes come into conflict with locals.

More than a million Rohingya have fled Myanmar since the 1990s, mostly after a military crackdown in 2017 that forced many to settle in camps in Bangladesh.

Indonesia is not a party to the United Nations Refugee Convention and says it is not forced to accept refugees from Myanmar.

Source: guardian.ng

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