DHAKA: At least two dozen ethnic Rohingya died on a ship that was drifting for weeks after failing to reach Malaysia, Bangladesh coastguard officials said on Thursday (Apr 16), after 382 starving survivors were rescued.
A human rights group said it believed more boats carrying Rohingya, a Muslim minority group from Myanmar, were adrift at sea, with coronavirus lockdowns in Malaysia and Thailand making it harder for them to find refuge.
The Bangladesh coastguard said the ship was brought to shore late on Wednesday.
"They were at sea for about two months and were starving," one of the coastguard officials told Reuters in a message.
The 382 survivors on board would be sent to Myanmar, the official said.
Video footage showed a crowd of mostly women and children, some stick-thin and unable to stand, being helped to shore. One emaciated man lay on the sand. A refugee told a reporter they had been turned back from Malaysia three times.
Rohingya are not recognised as citizens of Buddhist-majority Myanmar and complain of persecution. Myanmar denies persecuting Rohingya but says they are not an indigenous ethnic group but immigrated from South Asia.
More than a million live in refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, the majority having been driven from their homes in Myanmar after a 2017 military crackdown that the army said was a response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents.
For years, Rohingya have boarded boats organised by smugglers in the hope of finding refuge in Southeast Asia. The voyages usually take place in the dry season, between November and March, when the sea is calm.
Rights groups fear restrictions across the region in response to the coronavirus could lead to Read More – Source