Dozens of Rohingya rescued from stricken vessel after weeks adrift at sea, however fears develop for these nonetheless aboard


After spending greater than a month adrift on a stricken boat with out meals or water, dozens of ravenous Rohingya have been rescued in Indonesia, the United Nations refugee company mentioned Sunday, providing a glimmer of hope for the persecuted group who fled their refugee camps final month in quest of a greater life.

Babar Baloch, an Asia spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee Company (UNHCR), mentioned 58 individuals believed to be from the boat had been rescued in Aceh, although fears stay for the lives of an estimated 130 extra – together with many ladies and youngsters – who’re nonetheless stranded aboard the vessel.

“Some indications suggest local Indonesian fishermen may have done the rescue,” mentioned Baloch. “We still are worried about (the remaining persons’) lives. Hoping they would be rescued soon.”

CNN has reached out to the Indonesian police for remark however has not heard again.

The boat was touring from Cox’s Bazaar in Bangladesh, the place round 1 million members of the stateless Muslim minority Rohingya stay in refugee camps after fleeing a brutal marketing campaign of killing and arson by the Myanmar navy in western Rakhine state.

At totally different factors in its voyage, the boat was noticed close to India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Relations and help companies have been warning for weeks that these on board the vessel are getting ready to hunger after their meals and water ran out. The UNHCR mentioned its earlier pleas for intervention had been “continuously ignored” by a number of South and Southeast Asian nations.

The rescue comes simply at some point after the UN company mentioned round 180 Rohingya refugees aboard a separate vessel lacking at sea at the moment are feared useless.

The second boat additionally began its “ill-fated” journey in late November, and started to interrupt aside in early December, the UNHCR mentioned in an announcement, citing unconfirmed stories.

“Relatives have lost contact. Those last in touch presume all are dead,” the assertion added. “We hope against hope this is not the case.”

Amnesty Worldwide on Saturday appealed to the Indonesian authorities to help with the rescue and disembarkation of the passengers on each boats.

“Many people, in Indonesia, Australia, and all around the world, are just ready to celebrate Christmas. The spirit of humanity that shows during Christmas must prevail in time like this,” it mentioned in an announcement.

“We also urge the Indonesian government to lead a regional initiative to resolve the refugee crisis.”

Since 2020, greater than 3,000 Rohingya have tried the dangerous journey from Bangladesh by sea, in line with the UN. Two thirds of these fleeing are girls and youngsters, it added.

Many search security from the overcrowded refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, the place circumstances are dire and ladies are vulnerable to sexual assault and violence.

Whereas all nations are certain by worldwide regulation to rescue individuals in misery at sea, swift motion isn’t at all times forthcoming – significantly the place Rohingya refugees are involved.

Passengers have been turned away from some nations, whereas girls have reported being assaulted throughout the journey.

In line with Baloch, some 2,000 Rohingya have taken the dangerous sea journey in 2022 alone. Of that quantity, almost 200 have been reported lacking, he added.

If stories of the 180 feared useless are confirmed, it could make this 12 months one of many deadliest for the persecuted group in search of refuge in a 3rd nation, Baloch mentioned.

“We hope against hope that the missing are still alive somewhere out there,” he added. “But if these fears are true, this will make it a tragic year of huge proportions involving desperate people.”