Bangladesh Rescues 400 M'sia-Bound Rohingya Refugees Who Were Starving At Sea For 2 Months

They were drifting at sea for 58 days.

Cover image via The Guardian & Agensi Penguatkuasaan Maritim Malaysia/Facebook

Bangladesh has rescued over 400 Rohingya refugees who were fleeing to Malaysia

According to The Guardian, Bangladesh's coastguard said they found at least 382 "starving" Rohingya refugees floating in a large boat in the country's territorial waters yesterday, 15 April.

However, a local newspaper reported that there the ship was packed with nearly 500 Rohingyas.

The local authorities came to know about the situation following a tip-off.

Spokesman Lieutenant Shah Zia Rahman said the information had led them to launch a three-day search operation and they managed to find the boat off its south-eastern coast on Wednesday night.

"We have rescued at least 382 Rohingya from a big overcrowded fishing trawler and brought them to a beach near (the coastal town of) Teknaf. They were starving," Rahman said.

"They were floating for 58 days. And over the last seven days, it was moving in our territorial waters."

Image via The Guardian

At the beginning of the voyage, the refugees were reportedly heading to Malaysia, but they had to turn back after learning the country had shut its borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic

The journey had killed 32 Rohingyas and their bodies were thrown into the sea. The local authorities did not question them upon reaching Bangladesh's shore due to the COVID-19 fear.

"We have cordoned off the place where they have landed. We could not question them because of the fear they could be infected with the coronavirus," Rahman said.

He added an investigation will be conducted to find out if the refugees came from Myanmar's restive Rakhine state, their homeland where they are a persecuted Muslim minority.

The authorities are currently in the midst of finding out the total number of Rohingya refugees arrived yesterday as they are afraid that the actual number could exceed the reported numbers.

Nearly one million Rohingyas live in squalid camps near Bangladesh's border with Myanmar since the brutal military crackdown began in 2017

Rohingya refugees who were rescued by Bangladesh Coast Guard in Teknaf Upazila of Cox's Bazar on Wednesday.

Image via Dhaka Tribune

AFP reported that many of them have been trying to escape to neighbouring countries, such as Thailand and Malaysia, as jobs and education are lacking in the camps.

As of the end of February 2020, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stated that Malaysia has over 101,010 registered Rohingya asylum seekers.

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