Yumna Moosa – email@example.com
21 December 2022 | 2 minute read | 12.15pm CAT
The United Nations and lawmakers in Southeast Asia have urged the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), as well as surrounding countries, to rescue a boatload of Rohingya refugees who have been adrift in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea over the past week. The boat has been reported in waters near Thailand, Malaysia, India and Indonesia in the Andaman Sea and Malacca Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. However, its exact location is unknown.
With an estimated 200 refugees on board, the boat has been adrift on the high seas since late November 2022. Many passengers have already been reported dead, while survivors are left without water, food and medication. The vessel was said to have left the coast of Bangladesh, with its intended destination being Malaysia. However, on December 1, the boat’s engines failed and have been adrift ever since.
A recorded 2-minute satellite phone call between the captain of the ship and Mohamed Khan Rezuwan, a Rohingya activist living in one of the several large refugee camps in Bangladesh Cox’s Bazar, has been posted and shared on social media.
“We haven’t eaten anything for eight to ten days. Three people have died. We are starving. We are dying here.”
The captain is heard saying this on the recording.
Heavily persecuted in Myanmar, thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya risk their lives trying to reach Malaysia or Indonesia, often in vessels in poor condition. Many asylum seekers have been seeking sanctuary via sea for years. Very often this involves putting their lives at risk.
On December 8, more than 150 Rohingya refugees were rescued from near the Thai coast after the boat was waterlogged on its way to Indonesia from a Bangladeshi refugee camp.