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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - UN Refugee Agency protection associate Faisal Rahman confirmed to AFP that the landing occurred this morning on the shores of Kuala Parek village in East Aceh. — AFP pic
BANDA ACEH, Feb 1 — A boat believed to be carrying over 100 Rohingya refugees landed in Indonesia’s westernmost province on Thursday, a UN official said, part of the biggest influx into the Muslim-majority country since 2015.
The mostly Muslim Rohingya are heavily persecuted in Myanmar, and thousands risk their lives each year on long and expensive sea journeys, often in flimsy boats, to try to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.
UN Refugee Agency protection associate Faisal Rahman confirmed to AFP that the landing occurred Thursday morning on the shores of Kuala Parek village in East Aceh.
He said the exact number of refugees “still needs to be confirmed” but that local authorities estimated the number at 137.
From mid-November to late January, 1,752 refugees — mostly women and children — landed in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, according to the United Nations agency.
Some boats have been pushed back out to sea as sentiment towards the minority group shifts in ultra-conservative Indonesian areas.
Many Acehnese, who themselves have memories of decades of bloody conflict, are sympathetic to the plight of their fellow Muslims.
But others say their patience has been tested, claiming the Rohingyas consume scarce resources and occasionally come into conflict with locals.
In December, hundreds of university students in Aceh stormed a temporary shelter for more than 100 Rohingya refugees, forcing them to be relocated.
Indonesia is not a signatory of the UN refugee convention and says it cannot be compelled to take in refugees from Myanmar.
More than 3,500 Rohingya are believed to have attempted the risky journey to Southeast Asian countries in 2022, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Nearly 1,000 Rohingya died or went missing since the start of that year while attempting hazardous sea crossings, it has estimated. — AFP
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