Aceh opens the door into Arakan Muslims

'We asked fishermen in Aceh to save them for the sake of humanity,' local elder tells, asking the government to do all it can to help the boat people

Aceh opens the door into Arakan Muslims

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Residents of the Indonesian province of Aceh were urging the government Monday to open up its borders to the thousands of Myanmar and Bangladesh boat people who remain off its coast.

Having relied on assistance from others in the wake of the 2004 tsunami, fisherman elder, Captain Yahya Hanafiah, has asked his fleet to bring the migrants in.

"We asked fishermen in Aceh to save them for the sake of humanity. As our lives revolve, who knows when we will again be in need of help," Hanafiah told on Monday.

In the wake of the Boxing Day tsunami, Aceh -- in which around 163,000 people died or went missing -- received almost $5 billion in international aid.

Almost 1,500 of the boat people are staying in three shelters in the region after being rescued by fishermen last week, but the Indonesian government has said the country has had its fill.

The migrants have been split into two camps, most of the 827 Arakan registered as refugees, while a majority of the 659 Bangladeshi have been told that since they are economic migrants they will be sent home.

A spokesman for the army, Fuad Basya, told on Monday that it now has four warships and a plane off Aceh's coast to keep the boats at bay.

"We are increasing patrols, but now they are using a new mode of dumping passengers by lowering them into the sea as happened in [Kuala] Langsa," said Fuad, referring to the 790 migrants rescued Friday by fishermen.

In Kuala Langsa, migrants were reported to have jumped from the smuggler's vessels around 64 kilometers off the coast.

From there, fishermen said they had no alternative than to pick them from the water or they would have drowned.

The chairman of the Youth National Committee in Aceh's capital, Banda Aceh, Hasnanda Putra, has called on the government to do more to help the Arakan, including pressing Myanmar to resolve the problems within its borders that are causing the Muslims to leave.

Last Mod: 19 Mayıs 2015, 15:09
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