Complying with humanitarian principles, if they are near the coast, or their boat is damaged, certainly it is our obligation to help.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency (Bakamla) and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (APMM) has agreed to cooperate in handling Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar to the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia and Malaysia.

Head of Bakamla Vice Admiral Aan Kurnia noted in a press conference at the 2023 ASEAN Coast Guard Forum here on Wednesday that the issue of Rohingya refugees still remains a common concern between Indonesia and Malaysia.

He noted that his party continues to monitor the issue and coordinate with APMM, as well as other stakeholders, to deal with the refugees.

“Complying with humanitarian principles, if they are near the coast, or their boat is damaged, certainly it is our obligation to help," he remarked.

The exodus of the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic group from Myanmar, has continued since 2017 when the Myanmar military junta attacked the settlements of the Rohingya community.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recorded that there were more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh, as of 2022.

However, they often take risky journeys on the sea to seek asylum in other countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.

Often, many of the boats are damaged, causing the refugees to become stranded in Indonesia and Malaysia.

As quoted from its official website, the UN agency reported that five ships bringing 644 Rohingya refugees drifted into Indonesian waters from November 2022 to February 2023.

Most of them are currently being housed in three areas, including Lhokseumawe, Pidie, and Aceh Besar in Aceh Province.

Of the number, 167 people continued their journey to their destination country, according to UNHCR’s data, as of February 13, 2023.

On the same occasion, Acting Director General of the APMM, Vice Admiral Datuk Saiful Lizan bin Ibrahim, said he is optimistic that the issue can be solved together.

He said that his party and Bakamla once handled a number of refugees who sailed from Sumatra straight to northern Malaysia.

“I am certain that good relations between Indonesia’s Bakamla and Malaysia’s APMM can ensure that this issue will be able to be resolved together. God willing," the APMM official remarked.

Furthermore, he expressed his gratitude to Bakamla for the cooperation and coordination.

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Translator: Genta Mawangi, Uyu Liman
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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