IOM Provides Food, Water and Health Screening to 114 Rohingya Refugees Rescued in Bireuen, Aceh

Initial data collection of the newest arrivals by IOM, UNHCR and the local authority. Photo: IOM

Jakarta/Bireuen, Indonesia – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting the Government of Indonesia and humanitarian partners to deliver much-needed assistance and cover the protection needs of the 114 Rohingya refugees rescued off the coast of Bireuen in Aceh, Indonesia, early Sunday morning (6 March).  

This latest group of 35 children, 21 women and 58 men were rescued by the local fishermen and brought ashore to Alue Buya village.  

Umar (11), the only English speaker in the group said they had been at sea for 25 days after leaving a camp in Bangladesh, and due to bad weather, the boat was stranded off Aceh.  

This is the latest in several Rohingya boat arrivals in Indonesia in the past two years. In December 2021, 120 refugees were allowed to land in Aceh and in June 2021, 81 Rohingya, mostly women and children, were rescued by local fishermen in East Aceh. In June 2020, 99 Rohingya refugees were rescued after being stranded at sea for more than 120 days.  Another vessel carrying 296 Rohingya disembarked in Aceh in September 2020. 

“The IOM advance team reached Bireuen this morning, and we are working in close coordination with the National and local Refugee Task Force, local authorities, UNHCR, and our partner, Getanyoe Foundation, to ensure both these new arrivals as well as community members remain safe,” said Louis Hoffmann, IOM’s Chief of Mission in Indonesia.   

Hoffmann added, “Our humanitarian response will continue to reflect earlier assistance and protection efforts, principally focusing on COVID-19 infection prevention and control as part of the overall health response.”   

By the end of the day, 45 refugees had received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from the local health centre. 

Hoffmann commended the Government of Indonesia, at both local and national levels, for carrying out this latest rescue and allowing for the safe disembarkation of the group.   

"We should single out for particular mention, the Panglima Laot, (a traditional Aceh fishery institution) has again played a significant role in its steadfast commitment to the protection of life at sea, ensuring the initial safety of these refugees,” Hoffmann said.  

IOM Indonesia currently assists over 7,400 refugees in Indonesia, alongside programmes to prevent and counter-trafficking in persons, strengthen protection for labour migrants, promote disaster risk reduction and response, and support integrated border management systems with a particular focus on battling the current COVID-19 pandemic. 

IOM’s emergency response to assist the Rohingya disembarkation in Aceh is funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). 


For further information, please contact:

Ariani Hasanah Soejoeti at IOM Indonesia, email:, Tel. +628122726308, or

Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Tel: +63 917 890 8785, Email:  

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