Amnesty says 1,000 Rohingya stranded at sea as Southeast Asia seals borders

JAKARTA: At least 1,000 Rohingya are stranded as Southeast Asian nations adjust their borders to avoid new ones, International said on Friday, urging that steps be taken to ensure they are not buried in an invisible graveyard at sea.

Human rights groups believe that at least two ships carrying Rohingya, members of a Muslim minority from Myanmar , are off the coast of Aceh province, but authorities said they had no clear information.

Spokespersons for the Indonesian navy and Aceh's disaster mitigation agency and search and rescue team told Reuters they were trying to confirm the ships' locations.

Refugees from two other ships have landed in Bangladesh since mid-April, many starving and emaciated after weeks at sea. Survivors of one said dozens died on board.

Saad Hammadi of Amnesty International said the refugees could have been sailing for several weeks or even months without food or water, citing information from humanitarian agencies and local news.

At a virtual press conference, he urged Indonesia and Australia, which are chairing a forum against trafficking and human trafficking known as the Bali Process, to ensure that refugees can safely land so that we don't see the sea become an invisible graveyard.

Australia's foreign ministry said it was unable to comment immediately, and a spokesman for the Indonesian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rohingya have made perilous voyages to Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia for years, fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

More than a million live in miserable conditions in sprawling camps in southern Bangladesh, with up to a dozen people sharing a shelter and poor access to soap and water in some areas.

The vast majority fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 that the U.N has said was executed with genocidal intent. The Myanmar authorities deny genocide, saying it was a legitimate response to attacks by Rohingya militants.