Stranded Rohingya rescued by Indonesian fishermen: officials
Banda Aceh (Indonesia) (AFP) –
Five Rohingya stranded at sea for almost three weeks have been rescued by Indonesian fishermen but another five of them died during the harrowing ordeal, officials said Friday.
News of the rescue comes several days after the arrival in Malaysia of another boat carrying dozens of members of the persecuted Muslim minority from Myanmar.
The group of two men, aged 28 and 33, a 20-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl and an eight-year old boy were spotted Monday in a small boat in waters off southern Thailand and Myanmar, 325 kilometres (176 miles) from Aceh province in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
The fishermen took them back to Aceh on Sumatra island and the group arrived early Friday.
"They were immediately brought to a local hospital for treatment as they were weak," Abdul Musafir, head of the East Aceh search and rescue team, told AFP.
"But I'm sure they will be fit again after a couple of days in hospital."
Musafir added that the group said they had been travelling with some two dozen other Rohingya but got separated. He did not provide further details.
East Aceh police said the rescued five were stranded at sea for about 20 days while five others had starved to death and their bodies were thrown overboard.
It has been rare for Rohingya migrants to attempt the sea routes south since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, sparking a crisis across Southeast Asia as large numbers were abandoned at sea.
But there have been concerns desperate migrants might start taking to the high seas again after mainly Buddhist Myanmar launched a new crackdown last year that forced about 700,000 members of the stateless Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.
In 2015 hundreds of Rohingya came ashore in Aceh, where they were welcomed in the staunchly conservative Islamic province.
© 2018 AFP