Geutanyoe Foundation Nominates Acehnese Fishermen for the Nansen Refugee Award 2016

Geutanyoe Foundation Nominates Acehnese Fishermen for the Nansen Refugee Award 2016

"In 2014, an estimated 750 people attempting the journey died somewhere in the Bay of Bengal or Andaman Sea, and 370 more in 2015, including at least 70 on the boats cast adrift in May..."


"As governments in the region deliberate over what to do with boatloads of vulnerable people stranded at sea, the people of Indonesia have spoken. In the last week, Indonesian fishermen have rescued more than 1,300 Bangladeshis and Rohingya from Myanmar after they drifted or swam to shore in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra. Local communities have mobilized donations of food, water as well as moral support – all desperately needed after the terrible ordeal the boat people have been through."

- UNHCR, 18 May 2015 -

Acehnese fishermen who were involved in rescuing Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi nationals who were stranded in the Andaman Sea in May 2015 have been nominated for the Nansen Refugee Award 2016 by the Geutanyoe Foundation.

The fishermen saved 1,807 people from stranded boats between 10 and 20 May 2015, on three occasions, in rescues off North Aceh, Langsa and East Aceh.

International Director of the Geutanyoe Foundation, Lilianne Fan, stated, "the fishermen of Aceh are true humanitarian heroes who risked their own lives, livelihoods and security to save refugees and migrants stranded at sea, even as the rest of the region hesitated. If it had not been for their courage and selfless action, thousands of men, women and children would have perished at sea."

In its nomination submission, the Geutanyoe Foundation explained that the Acehnese fishermen had acted out of a deep humanitarian ethic and honour for human life and human rights of all people, upholding the fundamental human rights of the survivors to life, liberty and security of person, of their equality in freedom and dignity, of their right to freedom from slavery and servitude as well as torture and inhumane treatment, and their right to seek asylum in other countries from persecution, as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The fishermen also acted in accordance with the principles of Acehnese Hukom Adat Laot, which dictates that they honour, save and protect all life.

The Aceh fishermen’s rescue and the local community and government response to assist the survivors in Aceh Provice has also resulted in a rethinking in Indonesia of its policy on refugees, and the fishermen are actively involved in the historic development of guidelines, standard operating procedures and a code of ethics on asylum seekers and refugees.

Established in 1954, the Nansen Refugee Award is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the first High Commissioner for Refugees for the League of Nations. The award is bestowed to a person or group for outstanding work on behalf of the forcibly displaced. The Nansen Refugee Award aims to showcase the values of perseverance and conviction in the face of adversity.

Langsa, 9 February 2016

Saleum and solidarity,

The Geutanyoe Foundation


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We are dedicated to cultivating and upholding values of humanity, dignity, peace and sustainability in Aceh and Southeast Asia.