Thailand Malaysia Has Intercepted Boat Carrying Rohingya

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BANGKOK / KUALA LUMPUR

A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya refugees trying to reach Malaysia briefly stopped off Koh Lanta in Krabi province, an official said Sunday, as fears grow about overcrowded camps for the stateless minority fleeing violence in Myanmar. Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought shelter in southern Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown on insurgents in August that the US and UN have called ethnic cleansing.

But the refugees have arrived to find cramped settlements and often squalid conditions in Cox’s Bazar, where hundreds of thousands who fled previous waves of persecution are already living.

A boat carrying Rohingya refugees is seen off the coast of Krabi on Sunday morning. © Chutima Sidasathian / Twitter

An agreement to repatriate Rohingya from Bangladesh to Myanmar’s Rakhine state has yet to see a single refugee returned.

 

Malaysia has intercepted a boat carrying Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, off its northern island of Langkawi, and will allow them to enter the country, Malaysia’s coastguard chief said

 

Rohingya migrants attempting the boat routes south have been a rare sighting since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, leaving thousands of migrants abandoned in open waters or jungle camps.

The Rohingya boat arrived off Thailand’s western coast in Krabi province early Sunday due to bad weather.

Images showed the passengers being interviewed on shore and then getting back into the boat before departing.

 

Rohingya migrants attempting the boat routes south have been a rare sighting since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015, leaving thousands of migrants abandoned in open waters or jungle camps

 

Krabi governor Kitibodee Pravitra confirmed that the people travelling on the boat were Rohingya but did not know where they had come from.

“The initial report said they were docking near Koh Lanta to avoid the storm,” he said, referring to an island popular with tourists. “They want to go to Malaysia.”

The Rohingya on board would continue toward their destination, the governor said.

Mr. Pravitra said there were about 56 women, men and children on board.

People on a boat a day prior to it being found underneath a bridge near to Koh Phi Phi Leh Island, damaged in a storm. © AP

Many of the Rohingya ensnared in the 2015 boat crisis wound up in Muslim–majority Malaysia and Indonesia as Thailand stuck to a policy of not accepting the vessels.

Bangladeshi economic migrants have also taken the boat routes.

There are nearly 70,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers living in Malaysia, according to the most recent statistics from the UN refugee agency.

Malaysia has intercepted a boat carrying Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, off its northern island of Langkawi, and will allow them to enter the country, Malaysia’s coastguard chief said on Tuesday.

The boat with 56 refugees from Myanmar had stopped off Karbi’s Phi Phi Leh Island in southern Thailand on Saturday evening after a storm, with officials there saying the refugees were heading to Malaysia.

Malaysia’s Maritime Enforcement Agency Director General Zulkiflee Abu Bakar said the refugees would be allowed to enter on humanitarian grounds. ■

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