‘Myanmar is their home’: Indonesian FM calls for safe repatriation of Rohingya refugees | The Daily Star
12:18 PM, September 15, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:22 PM, September 15, 2020

‘Myanmar is their home’: Indonesian FM calls for safe repatriation of Rohingya refugees

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has expressed the government's concern about the increasing number of Rohingya refugees arriving on Indonesia's shores, calling on other countries in the region to share responsibility for addressing the core issues that led to the crisis. In the last two months, Indonesia received almost 400 boat people of Rohingya ethnicity.

"Myanmar is their home, so a voluntary, safe and dignified repatriation should be continuously pursued," Retno said at the Asean Regional Forum (ARF) on Saturday.

Indonesia has rescued and taken in 395 Rohingya people who were adrift at sea on cramped boats.

The first group was rescued by fishermen in Aceh on June 24 and the second arrived on September 7. Of the 296 refugees in the second group, 105 were men and 191 were women. "Based on preliminary information, we have found that they came from a camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, with 119 of them claiming to have refugee status from the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

"This will be verified directly by UNHCR Indonesia," Retno said, adding that Indonesia's decision to temporarily accommodate the refugees was based on humanity and overcoming the emergency situation.

The refugees had been adrift at sea for seven months after being pushed away by other countries.

"We also received reports that there were three refugees who died (after being rescued), presumably due to fatigue, beriberi (thiamine deficiency) and weakened bodily conditions as a result of long sea voyages," Retno said, adding that health authorities had found no evidence that the three deceased refugees had suffered from Covid-19. Indonesia has raised the Rohingya refugee issue not only at the ARF, but also in many other Asean meetings hosted virtually by Vietnam.

"I have reiterated to the Myanmar government (the need) to resolve this problem from its roots and have urged concrete action through safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable repatriation to their place of origin in Rakhine State," Retno said.

"We also urge responsibility sharing, especially among countries party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, international organisations and NGOs that are concerned with this issue, to contribute significantly to dealing with refugees in transit countries such as Indonesia," she said. As of July, 13,653 refugees and asylum seekers were registered with the UNHCR in Indonesia, but most of them were from Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq.

Copyright: The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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