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A Rohingya refugee boat lands in Indonesia after a month at sea

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A disassembled boat carrying 57 Rohingya refugees landed on Indonesia’s west coast on Sunday after a month at sea, police said.

Thousands of Rohingya, most of them Muslims, who are deeply persecuted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, every year risk their lives on long and expensive sea journeys – often in poor-quality vessels – in an effort to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

Local police spokesman Winardi told AFP that the wooden ship with 57 men on board arrived at around 8 am local time (1 am GMT) on a beach in the far western province of Aceh.

“The boat had a broken engine and the wind carried it to the beach in Ladung village in Aceh Besar district,” said Winardi, who was given a single name.

“They said they’ve been drifting at sea for a month.”

Winardi added that the police arrived at the beach after some local residents informed them that the boat had docked there.

He said four of the men on board were sick and taken to hospital.

Telmaizole Siatri, head of the local immigration office, said the refugees will be temporarily housed at a local government facility.

“We will coordinate with the International Organization for Migration and UNHCR so that it can be dealt with well,” Siatri said.

This is the third Rohingya refugee boat to reach Muslim-majority Indonesia in recent months.

Two boats carrying a total of 229 Rohingya landed in Aceh on November 15 and 16, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Sunday’s arrival comes after Southeast Asian politicians and the UNHCR called for the rescue of another ship carrying up to 200 Rohingya refugees, including women and children, who have been stranded at sea for several weeks.

This boat has been reported in the waters near Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea and the Strait of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping routes in the world.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said last week that it had been submerged in water since late November, and had received reports that at least a dozen people on board had died. Those left on the boat have no access to food or water.

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