Twenty-three Rohingya refugees from Burma escaped from a temporary shelter in Bogor, Indonesia, on Wednesday, the city’s immigration office said.
Andika Haryono, head of supervision at the immigration office, which was watching the shelter, said the refugees were illegal immigrants who were arrested in the city’s Cisarua subdistrict last Friday.
“They were arrested because they didn’t have documents and they came illegally to Sukabumi [West Java] by sea,” he said. “The Bogor Police initially arrested 16 people but the number later grew to 23.”
Andika said 18 adults and five children escaped, all Burmese nationals.
“The immigrants were under the supervision of the Bogor immigration office and were placed at the temporary shelter because the immigration office’s shelter is under renovation,” he said.
Andika said he suspected the refugees escaped at about 3 am, leaving one at a time while the shelter’s six guards were not watching.
He said immigration officials had told the refugees that their stay in Indonesia was only temporary.
“We tried to make them understand they were here temporarily until the IOM [International Organization for Immigration] documents were issued,” he said.
“They understood. So now when they escaped, we aren’t really sure what caused it.” added Vento Saudale.
Rohingya Muslims have been fleeing western Burma’s Arakan State since sectarian violence erupted there at the beginning of June.