In Indonesia, at least 185 Rohingya refugees reached western Aceh province Monday after their overcrowded wooden boat was adrift on the Andaman Sea for over a month without a working engine. Survivors said at least 26 refugees died at sea. The surviving passengers, including children, nearly starved, with many so malnourished and dehydrated they could barely walk. This is Shafiq Rahman, a Rohingya refugee, speaking from a makeshift shelter in Indonesia.
Shafiq Rahman: “From Myanmar, we became refugees in Bangladesh. We cannot read Bengali. We were provided assistance from Bangladesh, and we came to Indonesia in a boat to make our lives better.”
Just a day earlier, on Christmas, another boat carrying over 50 Rohingya refugees came ashore in Indonesia. The U.N. says the number of Rohingya refugees undertaking the dangerous trek by boat to Indonesia and other destinations in the region had increased sixfold in 2022. It’s estimated over 1 million Rohingya Muslims have fled persecution in Burma since 2017.