Views: 551

Nearly 300 Rohingya have come ashore in Aceh, on the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island, authorities said, in one of the biggest such landings by the persecuted Myanmar minority in years, after a months-long voyage at sea during which more than 30 refugees are thought to have died.

The group, mainly women and children, were spotted at sea by locals who helped them land near Lhokseumawe early on Monday, according to Munir Cut Ali, head of Ujong Blang village.

“We saw a boat coming ashore in Ujong Blang and so then we helped them land safely,” Ali told AFP.

At least one member of the group – 102 men, 181 women and 14 children – was ill and had to be rushed to a local hospital for treatment, according to the area’s military chief Roni Mahendra. It was not immediately clear how long the Rohingya had been at sea or what type of vessel they arrived in. The UN Refugee Agency said it welcomed the “life saving disembarkation” of the Rohingyas, and said an “unknown number” might need medical attention. It was critical of those states that had not allowed the Rohingya ashore.

“The group had repeatedly tried to disembark over the course of more than 200 days at sea, to no avail,” the agency’s director for Asia and the Pacific, Indrika Ratwatte, said in a statement.

“Refugees have reported that dozens passed away throughout the journey. UNHCR and others have repeatedly warned of dire consequences if refugees at sea are not permitted to land in a safe and expedient manner. Ultimately, inaction over the past six months has been fatal.”

The group is reportedly the largest to land in Indonesia since at least 2015 when thousands of Rohingya attempted the risky crossing.

Source: Aljazeera