76 Rohingya Asylum Seekers
 Stranded in Aceh


Banda Aceh, TAG – Local fishermen in Aceh Island rescued 76 Rohingya asylum seekers from a wooden boat cast adrift off the coast of Aceh Besar after its passengers ran out of fuel and food, a government official said on Monday.

The asylum seekers, which included five women and five babies, were attempting to making it to Australia after fleeing religious violence in Myanmar.
They were weak and out of food when the fishing vessel found them on Sunday afternoon, Pulo Aceh subdistrict head Munzir said. 

They were given food and temporary shelter at the Pulo Aceh Police station, Munzir said. 

“It just so happened that in Pulo Aceh there was an ongoing feast to mark Maulid [the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday] and there was plenty of food,” Munzir said. “The residents gave them food.”
The asylum seekers were moved by boat to Lampulo, Banda Aceh, and then to a temporary shelter at Krueng Raya Port.
One of the men identified himself as Makmun Musa, a student from Myanmar, and said he was hoping to make it to Australia. 

“I am Burmese,” he said. “Our destination is Australia.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been notified of the asylum seekers’ arrival, Aceh Besar district police chief Adj. Sr. Comr, Djajuli said.

“They are being sheltered at the [Krueng Raya] port while awaiting further handling by the IPOM and the UNHCR,” Djajuli said.

This was the third boat of Burmese asylum seekers to become stranded off the coast of Aceh in three months.
On Feb. 26, 121 asylum seekers were found floating in a boat off the cost of North Aceh. Two days later, an additional 63 Rohingnya refugees were pulled from the sea by local fishermen in East Aceh.[]
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