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400 Rohingyas from Bangladesh in 2 boats adrift in the Andaman Sea for 2 weeks, UN Refugee Agency asks neighbouring nations to help

Rohingya Refugees from Bangladesh are migrating to other places due to a surge in gang violence and abductions, leading some to seek safety in Indonesia. Two boats of such Rohingyas have gone missing in the sea.

On Monday (4th December), the UN refugee agency warned that an estimated 400 Rohingyas believed to be aboard two boats adrift in the Andaman Sea without adequate supplies could die if they do not receive any help. The UN agency has asked countries in the region to extend help to these Rohingyas, who are in the sea for around two weeks.

Babar Baloch – the regional spokesperson of the UN refugee agency in Bangkok – said, “There are about 400 children, women and men looking death in the eye if there are no moves to save these desperate souls. The boats embarked from Bangladesh and are reported to have been at sea for about two weeks.” Notably, the exact location of the boat is not yet clear.

According to reports, Maan Nokim, the captain of one of the boats, said on Saturday that he had 180 to 190 refugee people on board. He also told the media that they were out of food and water and the engine was damaged. On Sunday, the captain reported that the boat was 200 miles from Thailand’s west coast. However, on Monday, a Thai navy spokesperson said that the whereabouts of the boat were not known.

On the other hand, UNHCR spokesperson (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) Babar Baloch said that the location told by the boat’s captain is about the same distance from Indonesia’s northernmost province of Aceh, where another boat with 139 people landed Saturday on Sabang Island, off the tip of Sumatra.

The landed boat had 58 children, 45 women and 36 men. Notably, hundreds of such Rohingya refugees reached Aceh in the last month. More than six boats have arrived on the Aceh coast since 14th November.

Babar Baloch fears that if these Rohingyas do not receive any help, it may lead to a tragedy similar to the one that took place in December 2022. In 2022, approximately 180 individuals went missing when their boat disappeared, marking one of the most tragic incidents in the region.

Since 2017, the Rohingyas from Myanmar – most of them being Muslims – have been residing in camps in Bangladesh, as they left Myanmar after a strict counterinsurgency campaign. Approximately 740,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladeshi camps, with a significant number being relocated to the secluded silt island known as Bhashan Char.

The crime elements within the Rohingyas are also a known fact. Refugees from Bangladesh are therefore migrating due to a surge in gang violence and abductions, leading some to seek safety in Indonesia. According to reports, more than 3570 Rohingya Muslims have left Bangladesh and Myanmar this year. Last year, in the same period, this number was 2000.

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