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A boat carrying 71 weak and hungry Rohingya Muslims fleeing from refugee camps in Bangladesh landed Thursday in Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh, local officials said.
Fifteen-year-old Shorif Uddin, who was on the boat with his parents, said two or three people died while they were at sea because of a lack of food.
“We have been traveling so long and did not have any food to eat. We are really hungry,” he said.
He said the Rohingya had been unable to find work or achieve higher education in the refugee camps and decided to leave Bangladesh for Indonesia.
His parents paid money to board the boat along with other refugees, but the captain fled the vessel as it was passing India, Uddin said.
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Ethic Rohingya people rest on Lampanah Leungah beach after landing in Aceh Besar, Aceh province, Indonesia, on Feb. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Riska Munawarah)
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Miftach Cut Adek, the leader of the tribal fishing community in Lampanah Leungah village in Aceh Besar district, where the boat landed, said it was in good condition and the engine was working.
The 71 Rohingya on board included 21 women and 20 children.
More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh after an army-led crackdown in August 2017. Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings and the burning of thousands of Rohingya homes.
Most of the refugees who have left the camps by sea have attempted to reach Muslim-majority Malaysia, but many have ended up in Indonesia along the way.
More than 500 Rohingya landed in Aceh last year. The most recent group was in early January, when 184 people landed on Kuala Gigieng beach, also in Aceh Besar district.