The 35 Rohingya children are part of the total 100 Rohingya refugees, who were rescued by three Aceh fishermen -- Faisal, Abdul Aziz, and Raja -- on hearing their audible cries after their damaged boat began sinking in the Malacca Strait waters.
The three fishermen moved the refugees, including 48 women, to another boat and pulled them near the North Aceh shore on June 24, 2020.
The local authorities, petrified of the spread of the COVID-19 disease, prevented the refugees from disembarking and pushed the boat back to sea after giving them food and drinking water.
The local villagers were moved at witnessing the plight of children and women crying for help while their boat was pushed back from Lancok Beach in Syantalira Bayu Sub-district, North Aceh District, and attempted to reason with several officers. They insisted that the refugees be allowed to disembark on Aceh land.
In the afternoon of June 25, amid extreme weather, strong winds, and dark cloudy skies, several villagers took it upon themselves to evacuate the refugees without awaiting the authorities’ approval.
“We will pull the boat back and feed them here,” Nasruddin, one of the villagers, stated.
With a strong sense of humanity and empathy, the villagers took the bold move, as there were infants, children, and old women aboard the boat.