Friday, March 5, 2021

Hundreds of Rohingya disappear from Indonesia’s Lhokseumawe camp

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Neither native authorities nor the UN might account for the whereabouts of the stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar.

Hundreds of Rohingya are lacking from a refugee camp in Indonesia and are believed to have been trafficked to neighbouring Malaysia, in keeping with officers and different sources.

Just 112 refugees stay on the makeshift camp in Lhokseumawe on Indonesia’s northern coast this week, nicely down from the almost 400 that arrived between June and September final yr.

Neither native authorities nor the United Nations might account for the whereabouts of the refugees from the stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar, who’re feared to have enlisted traffickers to assist them cross the Malacca strait into Malaysia.

“We don’t know yet where they went,” Ridwan Jalil, head of the Rohingya process pressure in Lhokseumawe, mentioned on Thursday. “But they’ll escape if they can find any hole to leave because that is their goal.”

A Myanmar navy crackdown in 2017, which UN investigators mentioned amounted to genocide, compelled 750,000 Rohingya to flee throughout the border into Bangladesh’s southeast coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, the place many ended up in sprawling refugee camps.

Thousands have since paid smugglers to get them out of Bangladesh, enduring harrowing, months-long sea journeys punctuated by sickness, beatings by traffickers and near-starvation rations to reach Indonesia and Malaysia.

At least 18 Rohingya from the Lhokseumawe camp and greater than a dozen suspected traffickers have been lately apprehended by police a number of hundred kilometres south in Medan metropolis, a frequent staging level for unlawful crossings into Malaysia, authorities mentioned.

The refugees have been requested to not depart the camp, the UN’s refugee company mentioned, given the dangers concerned in making the journey.

‘Danger and risks’

“But [they] left despite our constant efforts to remind them about the danger and risks they could face by leaving, including if they used the services of smugglers,” mentioned UNHCR spokeswoman Mitra Suryono.

“But we have to remember that many of [them] have relatives in other countries such as Malaysia. That may be one of the reasons why they continued their journey,” she added.

Rights teams blamed the Indonesian authorities, which drastically decreased safety on the settlement when the Rohingya have been positioned beneath the supervision of the UNHCR final month.

While Indonesia shouldn’t be a signatory to a global conference on refugees, the move was a breach of its obligations to guard them, mentioned Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International’s Indonesia workplace.

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