Several Rohingyas Stranded Off Andaman Coast Feared Dead
Kolkata: Several members of the ethnic Rohingya community stranded in a boat off the Andaman Islands are feared dead. As per reports, around 10 members of the community were in the boat and as many as 16-20 of them may have Succumbed to thirst, hunger or drowned.
Two Myanmar Rohingya activist groups said every year many Rohingyas risk their lives boarding rickety vessels to escape violence in Myanmar and filth in Bangladesh refugee camps. Several of them endeavour to reach Malaysia.
On late Tuesday, five Indian ships approached the stranded boat.
Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project which works to support Myanmar’s Rohingyas, said, “We estimate that probably as many as 20 have died… some from hunger and thirst, and others jumped overboard in desperation. This is absolutely awful and outrageous.”
Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network’s Rohingya Working Group said the group had been adrift for more than two weeks. Lilianne Fan, chair of the group, said, “We heard late last night that there were some Indian vessels approaching the boat so we are awaiting updates now.”
“We hope that the Indian Navy or Coastguard will manage to rescue and disembark the boat as soon as possible. These people have been adrift on a damaged boat for more than two weeks without food and water. We have heard that up to 16 people may have already died.”
Another boat, carrying more than a hundred Rohingya were rescued by Sri Lanka’s navy on the weekend.
In 2018, more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Myanmar that witnesses said included mass killings and rape.