Currently, more than a thousand Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have been provided accommodation in several camps in Aceh, including some 374 children without parents.
The majority of these children are victims of kidnapping by a group of traffickers, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The Rohingya minority in Rakine province in Myanmar is described by the United Nations as among the worlds most persecuted community.
The Buddhist majority in Myanmar does not recognize Rohingyas as its citizens and often turns a blind eye to the torture and even killings of Rohingyas by some members of the population.
When the refugees were found by some Acehnese fishermen in May, they were suffering from severe dehydration and starvation as they had been floating aboard the barge for several months before being rescued.
Acehs determination to help the Rohingya Muslims has been supported by the Indonesian government, which is willing to provide temporary shelters for them and help look for third world countries that agree to accept them permanently.
"We only provided humanitarian assistance. However, we do not want to send out a message that Indonesia has created a pull effect as it could attract refugees to come here," Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said recently.
Humanitarian assistance for the refugees has been provided by the Indonesian government with the cooperation of domestic NGOs and foreign donors.
Minister of Social Affairs Khofifah Indar Parawansa has expressed readiness to take care of orphaned Rohingya children, give them services for psychosocial recovery and send them to boarding schools.
"There are more than 300 Islamic boarding schools in Banyuwangi that have expressed their readiness to accommodate the Rohingya refugees," the minister added.
In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will discuss their reunification with their families as most of them have been separated from their loved ones.
Furthermore, Acehnese non-governmental organization Rumah Baca Aneuk Nanggroe provided free circumcision to 31 Rohingya children at the Kuala Cangkoi shelter in North Aceh district, Aceh province.
The event was held as part of a series of "We are Rohingyas Friends" programs held in Aceh recently.
"We intentionally turned the event into a charity for Rohingya children and other local people of the district. We also appreciated the people living around the shelter for accepting the refugees and assisting us in our work," the coordinator of the program, Riski Sopya, said.
The organization will continue to provide the refugees mental health rehabilitation, trauma healing services, education and training in vocational skills.
Founder of Rumah Baca Aneuk Nanggroe Ahmad Arif pointed out that the program was an initiative of Acehnese people who live in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. They gathered funds following reports on hundreds of Rohingyas found stranded in the waters of Aceh in May.
In addition, some 433 Rohingya refugees sheltered in Bayeun village, Rantau Selamat sub-district, East Aceh, have been administered immunity-boosting vaccinations.
Head of the Rantau Selamat Healthcare Center Dr. Rismayanti stated recently that they had been given vaccinations to boost their immunity so they do not contract diseases easily.
She noted that the refugees were vulnerable to contracting various types of diseases as they had been suffering from prolonged starvation and dehydration, which had made them physically weak.
While adult refugees had been administered an anti-tetanus vaccine, children had been given an anti-measles vaccine.
Rismayanti remarked that their condition had improved as compared to when they had first arrived in Aceh after being adrift at sea for several days on end without food and water.
Kind attention was also shown by Mayor of Banda Aceh Illiza Saaduddin Jamal, who recently held an iftar (dinner to break their fast) with Rohingya Muslims at the Blang Adoe refugee camp in North Aceh district.
Jamal, the only female mayor in Aceh, donated Rp200 million for logistics for the refugees, as well.
Another form of help came from Head of the Lhokseumawe Immigration Office Akmal, who affirmed that he would request for UNHCRs refugee cards so that some of the Rohingyas can apply for asylum status in third world countries.
Moreover, the local Aceh administration will also provide religious and vocational education to the Rohingya refugees in the district during the fasting month at the Vocational Training Center of North Aceh, Aceh province.
"The refugees will get religious education and other vocational training at the new shelter. Religious education will be imparted through lectures, recitation of the Al Quran and other activities," Chief of Public Relations of North Aceh Amir Hamzah explained.
The administration will also offer educational training, such as developing reading and writing skills to improve their working ability, after the completion of the training program.
During their leisure time, the refugees can participate in useful activities that can be advantageous in the future for them.
Furthermore, the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) is providing training in job skills to asylum seekers, including the Rohingya refugees being accommodated in Indonesia, so they can earn money.
Those who have been in Indonesia for a long time and those who may stay here for long are being offered the training programs, Deputy Chairman of the PMI Ginanjar Kartasasmita said after a meeting with representatives of the UNHCR recently.
With training in skills, they are expected to ease the burden borne by Indonesia, which is acting as the host country, if they stay for a long time, Kartasasmita noted.
In addition, a representative of the UNHCR Thomas Vargas stated that the UN body will assist with the training courses for the foreign asylum seekers in Indonesia.
Having job skills will improve their confidence and boost their spirit to survive, he emphasized. (*)
(f001/INE) 24-06-2015 22:20:50