Jakarta (dpa) – Nearly 550 migrants rescued off Indonesia’s Aceh province over the weekend were “hungry and depressed”, an Indonesian official said Monday.
The refugees, believed to be persecuted ethnic Rohingyas from Myanmar and Bangladeshis, were sheltered in a sports hall in North Aceh after their boat was found drifting at sea on Sunday.
“There is not enough food, even though the local social office and people are already helping,” said Tegas, an immigration official in North Aceh.
“They are tired, depressed and need to eat and drink because they were at sea for quite some time,” he said.
He said authorities had yet to obtain information on details of their journey.
Many Rohingya Muslims, a stateless minority in predominately Buddhist Myanmar, often travel to Malaysia and Indonesia via Thailand by boats and cars that are run by smugglers, who hold them in captivity until ransom is paid by their family back home.
They have suffered decades of state-sanctioned discrimination and ethnic violence.