The UN refugee agency UNHCR has sounded the alarm to Rohingya refugees who have been floating on a boat in the Andaman Sea, near Bangladesh for ten days. Eight people on board have died, human rights organization The Arakan Project says.
The boat drifted after the engine broke down about a week ago. Refugees told the UNHCR that there is hardly any water and food on board and that many people are sick, partly due to extreme dehydration. “Immediate action is needed to save lives and prevent further tragedy,” said UNHCR.
It is not known how many people are on the boat, where exactly the boat is, and what the intended destination is. The Indian Coast Guard says the boat is near the Andaman Islands and Nicobaren floats around. Indian naval ships are said to have given the refugees some food and water, but as far as is known the boat was not towed and no one was taken off board. The Indian Navy will release a statement later today.
The boat departed from the Bengali city of Cox’s Bazar, where millions of Rohingya live in refugee camps. Over the past three years, tens of thousands of them have been forcibly expelled from neighboring Myanmar. “After years in isolation in Bangladesh, and the recent coup in Myanmar, many Rohingya feel compelled to undertake this dangerous journey,” an Amnesty International spokesman told Reuters news agency.
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