In Indonesia’s Aceh province, villagers have discovered a stranded boat carrying 81 Rohingya Muslims, including children, who had left a refugee camp in Bangladesh since February.

Iran PressAsia: Miftach Cut Adek, the head of the local tribal fishing community, said that 90 people were on board the boat when it left the refugee camp on Feb. 11, but nine died during the trip.

More than 700,000 Rohingya had fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar to camps in Bangladesh since August 2017, when the military launched a clearance operation against Rohingya Muslims.

Myanmar security forces have been accused of mass rapes, killings, and the burning of thousands of homes.

Groups of Rohingya have attempted to leave the crowded refugee camps in Bangladesh and travel by sea in hazardous voyages to other Muslim-majority countries in the region.

M. Ilyas, a Rohingya on the stranded boat, said they had headed initially to Malaysia but were refused entry because of concerns over the coronavirus. He said their boat's engine broke down in Indian waters, and local fishermen there helped them continue their trip, According to an AP report.

"The engine broke down again, and the boat, carrying 49 women, 21 men, and 11 children, ran aground on Idaman island in Aceh, Indonesia’s northernmost province," he said.

"Local villagers reported the stranded boat to authorities," Adek said.

Myanmar has denied citizenship to most Rohingya Muslims since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless. They are also denied freedom of movement and other rights, including education.

Authorities in Myanmar say the Rohingya migrated illegally from Bangladesh, even though many of their families have lived in Myanmar for decades.

In September, almost 300 Rohingya were found on Ujung Blang beach in Aceh province after months at sea.


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