2,000 Rohingya migrants rescued from four boats by Indonesia, Malaysia authorities

2,000 Rohingya migrants rescued from four boats by Indonesia, Malaysia authorities

Four boats carrying some 1,400 Rohingya migrants have been rescued off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia, officials said, a day after nearly 600 others arrived in a wooden vessel off Indonesia’s Aceh.

All the boats appeared to have been abandoned as Thailand, their usual destination, has cracked down on the trafficking of ethnic Rohingya Muslims bound for neighbouring countries, after the discovery of dozens of remains in mass graves at “slave camps” in southern Thailand.

More than 1,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar landed in Malaysia after being dumped by human traffickers in shallow waters off the resort island of Langkawi, police said.

“We think there were three boats that ferried 1,018 migrants,” Langkawi deputy police chief Jamil Ahmed said, adding that the number was expected to grow as more migrants are picked up around the island.

Early on Monday, Indonesian search and rescue teams discovered another boat drifting off east Aceh with 400 men, women and children from Myanmar and Bangladesh aboard, Aceh provincial search and rescue chief Budiawan said.

“According to the people we have so far, the people on board are from Myanmar. They are Muslim, from the Rohingya community,” said Aceh Search and Rescue spokesman Mohammed Arif Mutaqin.

Boatloads of Rohingya have arrived off Aceh in the past, typically after becoming lost or running out of fuel.

But Indonesian officials said the first group which arrived near a beach in north Aceh early on Sunday were tricked and told to swim to land.

“One of the migrants who could speak Malay told me that their agent had told them they were in Malaysia, and to swim to shore,” disaster management official Darsa said.

Indonesian authorities said some migrants died during the journey from Thailand, which began about seven days ago.

“We are on standby and ready to rescue them when we receive an alert,” Budiawan said.