BANDA ACEH, Indonesia -- Villagers in Indonesia's Aceh province on Friday discovered a stranded boat carrying 81 Rohingya Muslims, including children, who had left a refugee camp in Bangladesh, officials said.
Miftach Cut Adek, the leader of the local tribal fishing community, said 90 people were on board the boat when it left the refugee camp on Feb. 11, but nine died during the trip.
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.
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.
Salmidin, a police officer, said local authorities, including the coronavirus task force, are working together to process the Rohingya.
“It is an empty island and we do not know their condition, whether they are free from COVID-19 or not. We are trying to examine them now,” Salmidin 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.