Indonesia urged to protect refugees following mob attack

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Hundreds of young people stormed a building basement where scores of Rohingya refugees were sheltered, according to media reports.

The Rohingya are a mainly Muslim community who have fled waves of persecution in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country. 

Nearly one million are living in camps in Bangladesh and more than 1,000 have arrived in Indonesia by boat in recent months.

Call for protection

UNHCR issued a statement saying it was “deeply disturbed to see a mob attack on a site sheltering vulnerable refugee families.”

The mob broke a police cordon and forcibly put 137 refugees on two trucks and moved them to another location in the city, the agency said, noting that the incident has left refugees shocked and traumatized.

 “UNHCR remains deeply worried about the safety of refugees and calls on local law enforcement authorities for urgent action to ensure protection of all desperate individuals and humanitarian staff,” the statement said.

Anti-refugee campaign

The attack was “not an isolated act but the result of a coordinated online campaign of misinformation, disinformation and hate speech against refugees and an attempt to malign Indonesia’s efforts to save desperate lives in distress at sea.” 

UNHCR appealed for the public “to be aware of the coordinated and well-choreographed online campaign on social media platforms, attacking authorities, local communities, refugees and humanitarian workers alike, inciting hate and putting lives in danger.”

People are urged to cross-check information posted online, much of which is “false or twisted, with AI generated images and hate speech being sent from bot accounts.”

 



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