28 Rohingya refugees have been reported dead of starvation after they were stranded in the sea for almost two months after they left Bangladesh to Malaysia two months ago. As per reports, more than 400 Rohingyas had started sailing to Malaysia in January, but they were stranded in the sea after Malaysia refused entry due to restrictions because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The boat drifted in sea for days without food and water and later the survivors were rescued by the Bangladesh Coast guard.
All the Rohingyas were the residents of Ukhiya-Teknaf refugee camps located in Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong in Bangladesh.
Lt Cdr M Sohel Rana of Teknaf Station Coast guard confirmed that Bangladeshi Coast Guard rescued 382 Rohingyas from the Jahazpur Ghat on Wednesday night.
Coast guard spokesman Lt Shah Zia Rahman said that they were floating for last 58 days and for the last seven days the boat was drifting in the territorial waters of Bangladesh. He said that they have rescued at least 396 Rohingya from a big overcrowded fishing trawler and brought them to a beach near Teknaf.
Rahman added that they had launched an operation to locate the boat after getting information about it, and it was spotted off the south-east coast after a three-day search.
One of the refugees, Md Jobair claimed that the Rohingyas sailed for Malaysia some two months ago but couldn’t make it to port there because of hard and fast restriction due to the recent coronavirus epidemic. He said, “since then we were adrift on the sea and without food and water, some 28 people have died on the boat.”
One refugee told a reporter that the group had been turned back from Malaysia three times and at one point there was a fight on board between the passengers and the crew.
The rescued people have been cordoned off at the place where they have landed. They were not questioned by authorities due to the fear that they may be carrying the coronavirus infection. At present they have been handed over to UNHCR, and they will be kept in a quarantine facility for 14 days. After that, they will be sent to their camps in Bangladesh.
“They will be kept inside medical facilities established in the Rohingya camps. If none of them show COVID-19 symptoms in the next two weeks, they will be sent to the transfer centre and subsequently to their homes inside the camps in Bangladesh,” UNHCR spokesperson Louise Donovon told Al Jazeera, confirming that they have received the rescued refugees from the coastguard authorities.