Australia and Indonesia have been urged to lead a push to avoid a humanitarian crisis after almost 100 Rohingya refugees were rescued when their boat broke down. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
By James Massola and Anthony Galloway, Sydney Morning Herald
The refugees, who are part of Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya ethnic minority, were rescued by local fishermen off Indonesia's Aceh province after the boat appeared to be sinking last week.
Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the 94 people – comprising 49 women, 15 men, 10 boys and 20 girls – were victims of people smugglers.
The Sydney Morning Herald last month revealed the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was urging Australia and Indonesia, as co-chairs of an anti-people-smuggling forum known as the Bali Process, to activate high-level discussions between members to avoid a repeat of a 2015 disaster in which hundreds of asylum seekers died in the Andaman Sea.
But Amnesty Australia's Refugee Coordinator, Graham Thom, said Indonesia and Australia — as co-chairs of the Bali Process — needed to step up and do more to manage the flow of Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
In practice, he said, that meant establishing search and rescue protocols for the countries in the region that would see people disembark boats at designated areas and, most importantly, a mechanism that would lead to people being resettled.
Dr Thom said the best solution would be for the Rohingya who are sheltering in Cox's Bazaar, Bangladesh, to return home. But at present that wasn't an option and governments like Australia simply won’t settle Rohingya who have fled to Malaysia or Indonesia.
Australia urged to help Rohingya refugees in limbo (Sydney Morning Herald)
Caritas responds as COVID-19 humanitarian crisis deepens in Cox’s Bazar (Caritas Australia)