More than 150 Rohingya rescued off Ranong

More than 150 Rohingya rescued off Ranong

Operators of Myanmar oil rig dispatched rescue boats, junta says

Rohingya refugees gather outside a relief supplies distribution point at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. The camps in are home to nearly a million people and are becoming increasingly difficult for Bangladesh to support. (AFP Photo)
Rohingya refugees gather outside a relief supplies distribution point at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh. The camps in are home to nearly a million people and are becoming increasingly difficult for Bangladesh to support. (AFP Photo)

More than 150 Rohingya people have been rescued from a waterlogged boat near the coast of Thailand, the Myanmar military said on Thursday.

The boat carrying 48 women and 106 men was spotted by workers on an offshore oil rig around 240 kilometres southeast of Myeik town, the junta said.

The operators of the rig — jointly run by the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and a private partner — dispatched two rescue boats at around 8pm on Wednesday, the statement added.

It is not clear where the rescued migrants were being taken.

The vessel left Bangladesh in late November and began to leak when it was off the coast of Ranong, in southern Thailand, said Chris Lewa, director of the rights group the Arakan Project, citing interviews with relatives of passengers.

Those on board said they had seen a Thai navy boat but it did not help.

A Thai navy officer told Reuters by phone on Wednesday that the boat had not entered Thai waters and was in Indian territory.

An earlier junta statement said the group had come from a refugee camp in Bangladesh and intended to reach Indonesia.

Sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh are home to some one million Rohingya who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017, bringing with them harrowing stories of murder, rape and arson.

But dire conditions in the camps often force them to move again, undertaking the perilous voyages to Malaysia or Indonesia.

Thousands of the mostly Muslim Rohingya, heavily persecuted in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, risk their lives each year in long, expensive sea journeys, often in vessels in poor condition.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said recently that this year has seen a “dramatic increase” in the number of people attempting to cross the Andaman Sea between Myanmar and Bangladesh. At least 1,900 people had made the crossing, one of the world’s deadliest, six times more than in 2020.

At least 119 have died attempting the journey this year alone, the agency said.


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