Smiley face
Weather     Live Markets

Dozens of Rohingya refugees who were saved after their boat capsized off Indonesia’s western coast have been forced to leave their temporary shelter due to local protests. The Rohingya, who are heavily persecuted in Myanmar, often risk their lives on dangerous sea journeys to try and reach Malaysia or Indonesia. However, the influx of refugees has caused anger in Indonesia’s Aceh province, where locals have pushed boats carrying Rohingya back into the sea or attempted to storm their temporary shelters. Last week’s survivors were moved to the local government chief’s office in West Aceh in response to the protests.

Authorities rescued 69 Rohingya refugees who had clung to the hull of their capsized boat for over a day, with six others rescued by fishermen a day earlier. Despite survivors claiming that over 150 people were on the boat, at least 11 Rohingya were found dead at sea. The survivors were initially given shelter in an old Red Cross building in West Aceh, but locals stormed the facility demanding their eviction, leading to the refugees being moved to the back of the local government office.

Indonesia provided temporary shelter to the Rohingya refugees for humanitarian reasons, but the UN and countries that are signatories to the UN Refugee Convention have an obligation to provide permanent shelter. Indonesia is not a signatory to the convention. From mid-November to late January, 1,752 Rohingya refugees arrived on Indonesian shores, marking the largest influx since 2015. While some locals in Aceh are sympathetic to the Rohingya’s plight, others have protested against them, accusing them of anti-social behavior.

In recent months, there have been several incidents where Aceh locals have protested against Rohingya refugees who have reached Indonesian shores. In one instance, hundreds of students forced the relocation of over a hundred refugees by storming a function hall where they were sheltering. In another incident, police had to block locals from storming a Rohingya shelter on Sabang island. While many Acehnese are supportive of their fellow Muslims, there are those who claim their patience has been tested and accuse the Rohingya of anti-social behavior.

The plight of the Rohingya is a longstanding issue, with many refugees risking their lives to flee persecution in Myanmar. The recent influx of Rohingya refugees in Indonesia has triggered mixed reactions among locals, with some showing sympathy and support, while others express frustration and anger. As tensions rise, the need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to address the refugee crisis becomes more urgent. Despite the challenges, the UNHCR continues to work towards providing assistance and protection to Rohingya refugees in Indonesia and other countries in the region.

© 2024 Globe Echo. All Rights Reserved.