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Hundreds of “boat people” land in Indonesia

A Rohingya migrant, who recently arrived in Indonesia by boat, covers his nose as an Indonesian official sprays insecticide for mosquitos at a shelter in Kuala Langsa

Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants landed in Indonesia’s northwestern Aceh province early on Wednesday, an Indonesian search and rescue official said.

“In total we found around 500 people out at sea and they are being brought to land in smaller boats,” said Khairul Nova of the national search and rescue agency. Nova said the migrants had landed in the town of Kuta Binje in Aceh.

Over 350 “boat people” have been brought to shore by local fishermen and are being registered by immigration authorities, a Reuters witness said.

The latest group brought to shore adds to the over 2,000 who have managed to land in Indonesia and Malaysia after weeks of drifting in the Andaman Sea with little food or water.

Thousands more, fleeing persecution and poverty, remain at sea, with governments in the region doing little to rescue them despite international appeals.

The foreign ministers of Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia are due to meet in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday to discuss the unfolding crisis.

Indonesia has said it would prevent migrant boats from landing on its shores but would provide humanitarian assistance at sea if needed. The navy has stepped up patrols in the waters off Aceh, deploying warships to intercept boats.

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