500 Rohingya Migrants Land in Indonesia

500 Rohingya Migrants Land in Indonesia500 Rohingya Migrants Land in Indonesia

Boats carrying more than 500 members of Myanmar’s long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim community washed ashore in western Indonesia on Sunday, with some of the people in need of medical attention, officials and nonprofit organizations said.

Deputy chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, said his teams were racing to the Aceh Province sub-district of Seunuddon, where the boats landed, AP reported.

Steve Hamilton said four boats were found with more than 500 people on board, adding that three had apparently been abandoned by the smugglers and one ran out of fuel.

Rohingya Muslims have for decades suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in Myanmar.

Attacks on the religious minority by mobs in the last three years have sparked one of the biggest exoduses of boat people since the Vietnam War, sending an estimated 100,000 people fleeing.

 First stop

The first stop for fugitives is almost always Thailand, where up until recently the migrants were held in jungle camps. From there, they continue on to third countries only after brokers collect “ransoms” from family members and friends. Those who cannot pay are sometimes beaten, killed or left to die.

But tactics started changing in November as Thai authorities began cracking down on smuggling networks.Now most fleeing Rohingya are being held in large ships off the Thai-Malaysian coasts or in nearby international waters, said Lewa, who estimates that 7,000 to 8,000 migrants are currently stranded. “Tight security” is preventing brokers from bringing them to shore, she said.