Last Update 21:43
Monday, 18 November 2019

Boat carrying dozens of Rohingya arrives in Malaysia

AFP , Tuesday 3 Apr 2018
Rohingya in Malaysia
This undated handout photo released by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency on April 3, 2018 shows members of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detaining a boat carrying Rohingya refugees in Malaysian territorial waters off the island of Langkawi. (PHOTO: AFP)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1239
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1239

A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya from Myanmar arrived in Malaysia Tuesday and the refugees will be allowed to enter the country, but an expert played down fears of a new exodus.

It has been rare for Rohingya migrants to attempt the sea routes south since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, sparking a crisis across Southeast Asia as large numbers were abandoned at sea.

But there have been concerns desperate migrants might start taking to the high seas again after mainly Buddhist Myanmar launched a new crackdown last year that forced about 700,000 members of the stateless Muslim minority to flee to Bangladesh.

Malaysian authorities intercepted the Rohingya boat off the northwestern island of Langkawi, after it was first spotted at the weekend off Thailand, said navy chief Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin.

"All 56 passengers, mostly children and women, are safe but tired and hungry," said the navy chief.

"We have provided them with water, food and other humanitarian assistance. The boat and its passengers will be handed over... to the immigration authorities."

The coastguard said there were 19 men, 17 women, 12 girls and eight boys on the boat.

 

The navy and coastguard had stepped up patrols around Langkawi -- where Rohingya have come ashore in the past -- after the boat was spotted of Thailand's west coast at the weekend and its passengers said they were trying to reach Malaysia.

Chris Lewa, of Rohingya advocacy group the Arakan Project, said the vessel was thought to have left a week ago from the Rakhine state capital Sittwe. But she did not expect many more to be following.

"April is the end of the sailing season so we don't expect many boats now," Lewa told AFP.

The 2015 crisis began when Thailand discovered mass graves in a human-trafficking camp along its southern border and launched a crackdown on the brutal networks that ferry migrants to Malaysia.

Unable to offload their human cargo in Thailand anymore, traffickers abandoned them at sea in large numbers, leaving them trapped on boats with little food and water.

Images of emaciated Rohingya pleading for help from overcrowded boats drew global condemnation, and forced Indonesia and Malaysia to allow hundreds of Rohingya to come ashore after initially refusing.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has long been a favourite destination for Rohingya, as the country is relatively affluent and authorities are sympathetic to their plight.

Tens of thousands have been allowed into the country, where they toil in low-skilled industries such as agriculture and construction -- earning low wages and with little hope for the future.

The situation is however much worse for the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who have fled the latest crackdown in their homeland.

They are living in cramped and often squalid conditions in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, where many Rohingya who fled previous waves of persecution are already living.

An agreement to repatriate Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar's Rakhine state has yet to see a single refugee returned.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.