Rohingya Refugees Missing From Indonesian Camp

According to numerous news sources, there are hundreds of Rohingya refugees missing from a refugee camp in Indonesia. Aljazeera stated that many people believe that these individuals are being trafficked to Malaysia. These refugees have supposedly escaped from a camp in Lhokseumawe in Indonesia, Aljazeera stated that this number has dramatically dropped from the 400 refugees that arrived just last year. The UN, as well as local authorities, could not account for the location of these individuals according to Aljazeera, many fear they have enlisted the help of traffickers as a way of getting into Malaysia.

Ridwan Jalil, head of the task force overseeing the Rohingya’s in Lhokseumawe, stated that they do not know the whereabouts of these missing individuals, stating, “they’ll escape if they can find any hole to leave because that is their goal.” According to Aljazeera, thousands of refugees have paid traffickers to help them leave Bangladesh, possibly enduring severely poor and dangerous conditions on the journey with these traffickers to Indonesia and Malaysia.

Aljazeera cited that there have been at least 18 Rohingya refugees from the camp in Lhokseumawe that have been taken into custody by police in a city called Medan, in an attempt to cross over illegally into Malaysia. These refugees are taking any attempt possible to leave the camps, regardless of the risks and danger that this entails.

Rohingya refugees have been forcibly displaced from Myanmar since 2015, many individuals have fled to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia since then. According to Aljazeera, UN investigators believe that a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017, “amounted to genocide” and is one of the main reasons that over 750,000 Rohingya’s were forced to flee their homes. This has resulted in mass displacement and these individuals have been spread out and forced from their families into camps in neighbouring countries.

Despite attempts from UN officials to warn these individuals about the dangers of leaving these camps, refugees have looked to smugglers to help them escape the conditions in Indonesia’s makeshift camp. Lack of security may be to blame in this situation, as Indonesian officials have failed to properly secure the camp. The conditions that these refugees have faced is no doubt traumatic both mentally and physically. Rights groups must hold the Indonesian government and the UN accountable. These refugees have no way of ever returning home and are looking to neighbouring countries for safety from the conditions in these camps. The Rohingya genocide continues to displace individuals even years later. The international community must ensure that these individuals are safely cared for in these camps, this can only be done through investigations into the whereabouts and the treatment of the Rohingya in these makeshift camps.