Nearly 100 Rohingya people who were stranded off the coast of Indonesia were pulled to shore on Thursday by local people furious at local authorities’ refusal to give them shelter because of fears about the coronavirus.
Some 94 people from the persecuted Myanmar minority – including 30 children – were plucked from their boat by fishermen this week before being intercepted by maritime officials from Sumatra island who pulled them closer to shore.
But officials in Lhokseumawe in the Indonesian province of Aceh refused to allow the group to land, citing coronavirus concerns.
Angry locals took matters into their own hands on Thursday by taking to their own boats to pull the group to shore.
Residents who had gathered on a local beach cheered the move, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
“It’s purely for humanitarian reasons,” said fisherman Aples Kuari.
“We were sad seeing kids and pregnant women stranded at sea,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, local police chief Eko Hartanto said they wanted to send the mainly Muslim Rohingya back to sea rather than give them temporary shelter.
But authorities appeared to soften that stance in the face of local protests, and the group has now been given temporary shelter in private residences.
The Rohingya would be checked by medical staff to ensure they were virus-free, according to Aceh’s rescue agency. Aceh is on the northern tip of Sumatra.
Jul 12, 2020Staff Reporter The suffering of hundreds of thousands Rohingyas living in the settlement camps in Cox’s Bazar continues due to non-stop rainfall for more than five days, posing challenges for the administration to deal with the situation. Concerned government officials in Cox’s Bazar also told Mercy Correspondence that the government was responding to the situation […]