Governments have ordered a search-and-rescue mission amid reports of the deaths of refugees on board a drifting ship for weeks.
A group of politicians in Southeast Asia has called on governments in the region to immediately launch a search and rescue operation for the boat believed to be carrying hundreds of people. Rohingya refugees have drifted in waters off Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India for weeks.
The appeal from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) on Tuesday came as media reports in India said the boat – which could carry hundreds of refugees including women and children – has drifted from the Strait of Malacca and into Indian waters off the Andaman and Andaman. Nicobar Islands.
News website Quint quoted satellite coordinates which the captain of the boat in distress gave to a Rohingya refugee – Mohamed Khan Rezuwan – in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar during a phone call on Sunday.
“We are dying here,” the captain told Rezuwan, whose 5-year-old sister and niece were also on board.
Rezuwan told India’s The Print newspaper that at least three people on board the boat died from starvation and dehydration.
“The situation is very worrying. They have no water and no food,” he said.
Please listen to the voices of the 160 Rohingya who have been trapped in Andaman for more than 3 weeks! @refugees @UNHCRAsia @pardon @AJEnglish @IndianExpress @UNHumanRights @UNHCR_BGD @POTUS @SecBlinken @trtworld @CNN @OIC_OCI @RefugeesIntl @MEAIndia @arielmou @indiannavy @narendramodi pic.twitter.com/DMQyapv3tO
– MohammedkhanRezuwan (@Khan_RZW) December 18, 2022
The United Nations refugee agency highlighted the plight of Rohingya refugees on boats in early December when it called for an urgent search and rescue operation. At the time, the UN agency said the “unseaworthy” boat could carry up to 200 people, although Indian media reported the number was around 160.
In a statement on Tuesday, the group of Southeast Asian legislators called on member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other countries in the region to fulfill their humanitarian and humanitarian obligations. save the people on the boat.
Eva Sundari, APHR board member, said: “It is a shame that a boat full of men, women and children in grave danger is allowed to drift at sea.
“Abandoning the people on the boat is nothing more than an insult to humanity,” she said.
The boat is believed to have sailed from Bangladesh – where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled persecution in their home country of Myanmar – in late November with the aim of reaching Malaysia.
The ship has been drifting since December 1 when its engine failed and is one of a number of boats carrying refugees that have been reported to have drifted in recent weeks.
On December 8, a boat carrying 154 Rohingya refugees was rescued by a Vietnamese oil and gas service vessel off the coast of Thailand. The refugees were handed over to the Myanmar navy.
On Sunday, the Sri Lankan navy rescue Another boat was carrying 104 refugees, including 39 women and 23 children. The navy said the small fishing boat had departed from Myanmar and was on its way to Indonesia when it experienced engine trouble.
The United Nations refugee agency reported earlier this month that there has been a “significant” increase in the number of Rohingya refugees making adventurous boat trips from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Eastern countries. South Asia, partly due to the poor conditions in the refugee camps in which they are held in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. and Cox’s Bazar of Bangladesh.
According to UN estimates, about 1,920 mostly Rohingya people left Myanmar and Bangladesh by sea between January and November this year, compared with just 287 in 2021.
About 119 people are reported dead or missing during these journeys, the UN added.
APHR said on Tuesday that Southeast Asian nations needed to address the root causes of the crisis, including putting pressure on authorities in military-ruled Myanmar to restore citizenship to the Rohingya and repatriated nearly one million refugees living in camps in Bangladesh.
Kasit Piromya, APHR board member and former Thai foreign minister, said: “ASEAN and the international community at large have stood idly by as the Rohingya tragedy unfolds for many years.
“Countries that claim to protect human rights have a moral obligation to address the root causes of the human rights crisis affecting the Rohingya, otherwise these humanitarian tragedies will only be repeated over and over again. .”