Politicians in Southeast Asia on Tuesday called for the rescue of a boat housing nearly 200 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea for several weeks, including children.
The vessel has been reported in waters near Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India in the Andaman Sea and Strait of Malacca, one of the world's busiest shipping routes .
Thousands of Rohingyas, a strongly persecuted Muslim majority minority in Burma, a predominantly Buddhist country, risk their lives each year in long and expensive sea voyages, often on makeshift boats, to try to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.
We urgently call on ASEAN member states and other countries in the region to (...) launch search and rescue operations
," said Eva Sundari, former Indonesian MP and member of the parliamentarians' group. of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the Defense of Human Rights (APHR).
It is shameful that a boat carrying men, women and children in great danger has been allowed to remain adrift
,” she added.
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The current location of the boat remains unknown, as well as the place and date of its departure.
The Indonesian Navy did not immediately wish to react.
Rohingya activists and relatives of passengers on the boat told AFP that it had been adrift at sea for at least two weeks.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said he had been adrift since late November.
UNHCR said in a statement last week that it had been told that at least a dozen people had died on the boat and the survivors had no access to food or water.
Noor Habi, a resident of a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh, said her 23-year-old daughter Munuwara Begum was on the beached boat and spoke to her sister via walkie-talkie.
We are in danger.
Please save us (...) We have no food or water with us and there is no one to save us from this sinking ship
,” said his daughter, according to an audio clip of the call.
In all likelihood, the delay in rescuing these boats has already caused untold suffering and loss of (human) life
,” said Charles Santiago, former Malaysian MP and president of APHR.
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On December 8, more than 150 Rohingyas were rescued near the Thai coast en route to Indonesia from a refugee camp in Bangladesh, according to the Burmese junta.
Bangladesh's vast refugee camps are home to an estimated one million exiled Rohingya, whose harsh living conditions have forced many to flee again.