Spill-over effects of Rohingya issue on Indonesia

As the tension has escalated in Myanmar due to sectarian conflicts between two different ethnic groups, more refugees were flowing out of the country by boats and some of them were stranded in other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states including in Indonesia.

Last Sunday and Monday, the Indonesian authorities had detained Myanmarese refugees respectively on Sumatra and Java Islands for illegal entry into the Indonesian waters, although their intended destinations were actually Australia and Malaysia.

A total of 80 Rohingya Muslims, including five women and six children, were arrested by Aceh police when they arrived on Pulo Aceh isles, off the northwestern coast of Sumatra, from Rakhine Province, Maynmar. They said they wanted to go to Malaysia but lost their way, according to a police officer of Aceh Province.

In the wee hours of Monday, 53 illegal immigrants from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, were rescued and detained by Banten Provincial authorities as their boat leaked while sailing in Anyer waters, western tip of Java Island, to Christmas Island, Australia. They include two women and an infant.

Last April 5, 2013, Surabaya Police in East Java Province detained 35 Rohingya trying to escape to Australia.

Last February 26 and 28, two wooden boats with no engine and carrying a total of 284 Rohingya refugees including women and children, were separately found adrift in Aceh waters by Aceh fishermen.

Those Rohingya refugees were just part of the influx of Myanmar immigrants. Some of them had landed in other countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Bangladesh, not only in Indonesia.

Many Rohingya arriving in Indonesia have to wait for years in detention centers awaiting UN assessment for refugee status.

An international conference on "The Plight of The Rohingya: Solution?" which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on September 17, 2012, expressed serious concern about the consequences of a prolonged non resolution of the Rohingya issue and warned of spill-over effects on neighboring South Asian and ASEAN member countries.