The Indonesian Navy has towed a boat carrying hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh out of Indonesia’s territorial waters, one day after it arrived off the east coast of Aceh, AFP quoted a navy spokesman as saying.
The spokesman said that the Navy was not forcing the migrants to go to Malaysia or Australia, saying that the final destination for these desperate people is not their concern, as long as it is not Indonesia.
The spokesman refused to reveal the final destination of the boat.
It is not certain if this boat is the same one that was intercepted by the navy off Aceh yesterday with 400 migrants, mostly Muslim Rohingya, on board.
The total number of migrants who have been saved or swum to the shores of Malaysia and Indonesia in the last few days has grown to nearly 2,000.
The influx of migrants to Malaysia and Indonesia started after Thailand, migrants’ usual destination, increased security efforts following the discovery of mass graves found in a jungle camp in the country’s southern Songkhla province.
More than 30 bodies said to be of people originating from Myanmar and Bangladesh had been found in graves close to the border with Malaysia.
A UNHCR report released last Friday said that despite the risks, an estimated 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis boarded smugglers’ boats on the Bay of Bengal between January and March this year – almost double the number over the same period in 2014.
Based on survivor accounts, UNHCR estimated that 300 people died at sea in the first quarter of 2015 as a result of starvation, dehydration or abuse by boat crews.
The authorities have warned that more migrants could be at sea making the perilous journey.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: UNHCR