Friday, January 9, 2009

Indonesian authorities investigate stranded Burmese

by Nem Davies

New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Indonesian Foreign Ministry has said it is still investigating over 193 Burmese and Bangladeshi, stranded off Sabang Island near Aceh province.

Teuku Faizasyah, spokesperson of the Indonesia Foreign Ministry told Mizzima, "Out of 193, only 17 are Bangladeshis and the rest are Myanmar [Burmese] nationals, and they are still on Sabang Island."

The authorities are conducting investigations while the locals and authorities on the Island continue to provide food and shelter, he said.

"They have problems of nutrition and local people and authorities are giving food and water to them," the spokesperson said.

A boat carrying the Burmese and Bangladeshi was found stranded off the coast of Sabang on the northern tip of Aceh province on Wednesday. According to reports, about 80 of them are in ill health and were admitted to hospital.

The official said, the authorities have not decided what to do with them as they are still unable to prove their full identity because none of them speak English or Indonesian.

"The authorities are still investigating and will know next week what decision to take," the Foreign Ministry official said.

Reports said the Burmese and Bangladeshis were heading for Malaysia in search of employment.

Earlier in December more than 100 Burmese and Bangladeshis, who were proceeding to Malaysia in search of jobs, were rescued by Indian coast guards when their non-mechanized boat stalled near the Andaman and Nicobar Island.

Some of the survivals said they started their journey from Bangladesh and they were altogether over 400 people. Indian authorities launched a search and rescue mission as about 300 people are still missing.

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