By Ainur Rohmah
Fishermen rescued 79 Rohingya off the coast of Sumatra island Friday, marking the second time members of the persecuted minority were found stranded at sea near Indonesia.
In early April, fishermen in Aceh province rescued five Rohingya refugees.
Bireuen Police Chief Adjunct Commissioner Riza Yulianto said Saturday that the rescued Rohingya -- consisting of 44 men, 27 women and eight children -- were evacuated by fishermen at Kuala Raja beach in Aceh’s Bireuen district from a boat that had been adrift for the past week.
"They are mostly in a state of weakness and pain due to a lack of water and food," Yulianto was quoted by online news portal detik.com as saying.
He said they had entered waters off Thailand and Malaysia but were expelled by the authorities of both countries, adding their goal is to find decent jobs and a safe place after being persecuted in Myanmar.
Yulianto said the local government and immigration agency are now providing assistance to the refugees and recording their identities.
He said the government will coordinate with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Myanmar Embassy on their fate.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, some 750,000 refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar when Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community, according to the UN. At least 9,000 Rohingya were killed in Rakhine state from Aug. 25 to Sept. 24, according to Doctors Without Borders.
In a report published on Dec. 12, the global humanitarian organization said the deaths of 71.7 percent or 6,700 Rohingya were caused by violence. They include 730 children below the age of 5.
Tens of thousands of Rohingya fled Myanmar by sea following the violence, which reached its peak in 2015, when an estimated 25,000 people crossed the Andaman Sea in overloaded boats to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.