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Indonesian police, fishers start patrols to stop Rohingya boats

Lhokseumawe (AFP) – Indonesian police and fishermen said on Saturday they have begun patrolling parts of the country’s westernmost province to prevent Rohingya refugees from landing on its shores, after nearly 1,100 members of the persecuted Myanmar minority arrived this month.

Thousands from the mostly minority risk their lives each year making sea journeys from refugee camps in Bangladesh, often in flimsy boats, to try to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

As sailing conditions eased this month, more than half a dozen boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya people from Bangladesh arrived in Aceh province, including some that locals tried to turn back to sea.

Police in East Aceh, a regency of more than 350,000 people that saw 36 Rohingya arrive on Sunday, said they have now imposed round-the-clock patrols.

The force “has instructed its subordinate police precincts with coastal areas to intensify surveillance, both along the coastline and in the waters of the Malacca Strait, to prevent the entry of Rohingya immigrants”, it said in a statement.

“The police are patrolling 24/7 to prevent Rohingya immigrants from landing in East Aceh,” said police Chief Andy Rahmansyah.

Rohingya people queue for donations at an immigration building in Lhokseumawe, Aceh province, Indonesia. PHOTO: AFP
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