Reports indicate that many people died of starvation aboard a boat carrying 160 Rohingya refugees. It is currently stranded in Indian waters in The Andaman Sea.
A person on the vessel can be heard calling and saying, “We are dying here” as well as “We are starving,” adding that some people have already lost their lives.
According to activists and relatives, the boat left Bangladesh in November and was headed to Malaysia. However, its engine broke down two weeks ago.
All aboard are starving and running out of water.
One of the passengers in the boat’s brother is calling for immediate assistance and to be rescued.
Mohammed Rezuwan Khan, a Rohingya refugee who lives in a camp in Bangladesh, is called Rohingya . His sister Hatemonnesa, five years old, is aboard the stricken ship with him.
Sky News interviewed him and he stated that Hatemonnesa chose to travel the dangerous route because of the conditions in the camp. He also hoped to find better opportunities in Malaysia for her daughter.
Mohammed hasn’t been able speak to his sister since she left, but he was able to communicate with some people on the boat via satellite phone on Sunday.
The phone call ends with a conversation in which a person says “we’re dying here” and then “we’re starving”, along with the fact that there have been deaths.
Brother is worried
Mohammed said that he was very worried and told Sky News that he hadn’t been able speak to them since then.
Lilianne Fan, chairperson of the Rohingya group at the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network has spoken with relatives of those aboard and stated that the people on board are in severe distress and “crying out for help”.
She stated that “Turning your blind eye is a way to avoid responsibility”, and added that rescue efforts from other countries were inadequate.
She appealed to the Indian government because the latest geolocation showed that the boat was near Indian islands.
Rohingya refugees found on an Indonesian beach after more than a month at sea
UN urges rescue bid
The United Nations also issued an appeal to all countries to rescue the people on board the boat and allow them safely to disembark, in accordance with their legal and humanitarian obligations.
The UN reports that there has been an increase in people trying to cross the Andaman sea from Bangladesh and Myanmar. More than 1,900 people have died since January.
Rohingya refugees are the most dangerous of all those who risk their lives to flee Myanmar’s military persecution. They fled in their hundreds of thousands in 2017.