The European Union (EU) has welcomed Indonesia’s decision to provide a safe-landing and humanitarian assistance to 99 Rohingya refugees stranded off the northern coast of Aceh last week.
The refugees claimed to have been adrift at sea for four months. They were headed to Malaysia since the husbands of several married women on the boat were already in the neighboring country. However, the Malaysian government clearly announced that it could no longer accept Rohingya refugees. Indonesia’s military trucks were deployed to transfer the refugees to the abandoned Blang Mangat immigration building, where Aceh’s health workers were waiting to provide face masks to the refugees and conduct COVID-19 swab tests. However, all refugees tested negative for the coronavirus.
“The rescue of Rohingya refugees who face dire conditions is a tribute to international law and proves the generosity of the people and government of Indonesia,” EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy spokesperson, Nabila Massrali, said in a statement on Thursday.
However Massrali stressed that “While we respect the humanitarian actions of the Indonesian government, the plight of the Rohingyas cannot be resolved with humanitarian actions from benevolent countries. The root cause of suffering of the Rohingya refugees is in the State of Rakhine, Myanmar, (from) where they were originally evicted by force.”
The EU has said it hopes for the government of Myanmar to create conditions that would allow the people of Rohingya ethnicity to return safely, sustainably, with dignity, and in a voluntary manner to their place of origin. The EU has also urged countries in the region, including ASEAN member states, to engage more with the Myanmar government to ensure that the country increases efforts towards finding equitable and sustainable solutions to the issue, in line with the principles of international law and human rights.