The Indonesian central government should allow dozens of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, including a pregnant woman and nine children, who have reached the coast of Lhoknga, Aceh, to disembark and meet UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) officials, Amnesty International said yesterday (June 15th).
"These people have endured a long and difficult journey already. Now that they have reached land in Aceh, they should be allowed to disembark and meet UNHCR officials," said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International's Director of Campaigns for South East Asia and the Pacific.
The organization fears that the Indonesian authorities may push the boat - reportedly carrying 44 people - back into international waters.
The Aceh fishermen discovered the boat off the coast of Aceh province on June 11. They subsequently reported the boat to the Indonesian navy who have not allowed the boat to disembark and the people on it to apply for asylum, arguing the asylum-seekers lack the proper documentation.
They remain on the boat along the Lhoknga coast, with the threat of being forced back into international waters lingering over them. Meanwhile, the authorities have not let UNHCR officials interview them and establish the veracity of their claims and identity, foreign media reports.