154 Rohingya drifting in Andaman Sea rescued, handed to Myanmar authorities
By SM Najmus Sakib
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): A group of Rohingya refugees, who had been drifting in a boat on the Andaman Sea along the Thailand coast, were rescued by a Vietnamese oil service vessel and handed to the Myanmar military government.
The boat was floating in Thai territory.
The Thai Navy went to examine the boat but did not help its occupants with food for people who had been starving for days.
Relatives of the victims received a message that they were rescued by the Vietnamese, according to a Rohingya rights group.
A total of 154 people were rescued from the boat, a Myanmar junta spokesman told state VTCNews late Thursday.
The Vietnamese vessel, Hai Duong 29, was en route from Singapore to Myanmar when it spotted the Rohingya boat in distress Wednesday, 459 kilometers (285 miles) south of the Myanmar coast, said the report.
Later, two oil company ships rescued the boat and handed those onboard to the Myanmar Navy, said an activist with the Free Rohingya Coalition, a global network of Rohingya supporters and friends.
“A video suggests that HADUCO directly handed them to the Myanmar Navy. HADUCO might collaborate with the Vietnamese government,” Nay San Lwin, coordinator of the group, told the Anadolu Agency. He was referring to the Vietnamese marine service company,
“Our concern is the fate of 154 Rohingya people. They are now in the hands of the military junta. The junta has been arresting and imprisoning thousands of Rohingya since the coup,” in February 2021, he said.
Frustrated Rohingya desperate to move to third countries
The vessel, which was stranded off the Thai coast because of engine failure, reportedly started its journey from the Bangladesh coast in late November.
Bangladesh is providing shelter to 1.2 million Rohingya refugees on its southeast coast of Cox’s Bazar since a refugee influx in 2017 in the face of a Myanmar military crackdown.
Rohingya refugees living in Cox’s Bazar told Anadolu Agency that in the last two months, 3,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh’s refugee camps have embarked on a perilous sea voyage to Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, chief at the Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner told Anadolu Agency that he does not have information that the vessel left the Bangladesh coast.
“The stateless people of Myanmar often found desperate to move to third countries where they believe would get a better living, including joining relatives or friends in those countries through the Bay of Bengal,” he said.
Myanmar nationals try to cross the Bangladesh border regularly since the situation in Myanmar worsened at the hands of the Myanmar junta.
“We mostly check them at the border while some manage to reach Bangladesh refugee camps,” added Rahman.
He said there is a strong land and water border patrol, including by the Bangladesh Coast Guard and Bangladesh Navy in the Bay of Bengal.
On Wednesday, the UN refugee agency urged countries in the region to help save the lives of 200 Rohingya refugees whose boat had been stranded off the coast of Thailand since Dec. one.
Unverified information suggests several Rohingya, including women and children, have already lost their lives, it added.
The Southeast Asia waterway is one of the deadliest in the world and more than 1,900 people have already made the journey since January — six times more than in 2020, UNHCR said this week.
[ An infographic titled “RohingyaMuslims stuck between Myanmar’s military junta, rebel Arakan Army” made in Ankara, Turkey on November 29, 2022. Photojournalist :Yasin Demirci/AA]
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