UNHCR urges countries for action to rescue Rohingyas adrift at sea

The situation of the Rohingya refugees who have been stranded in the Indian Ocean for the past month is becoming more and more desperate, the UN agency for refugees said today (Dec 23, 2022) while reiterating its appeal to countries in the area to assist in saving them.

In a statement, the UN refugee agency reminded states in the region that pleas to rescue and disembark around 190 people, who are adrift somewhere between the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, are being continuously ignored.

Reports indicate those onboard have now been at sea for a month in dire conditions with insufficient food and water, without any efforts by states in the region to help save human lives, reads the statement.

It is believed that many people on the boat are dead and those who are still alive are on the verge of starvation, the statement added.

“This shocking ordeal and tragedy must not continue. These are human beings– men, women and children. We need to see the states in the region help save lives and not let people die,” said Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR’s Asia-Pacific director.

Since the first reports of the boat being sighted in Thai waters, UNHCR has received unverified information of the vessel being spotted near Indonesia and then subsequently off the coast of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India.

The boat’s current location is reportedly once more back eastwards, in the Andaman Sea north of Aceh, reads the statement.

UNHCR has repeatedly asked all countries in the region to make saving lives a priority.

The agency had alerted the Indian marine rescue centre earlier this week, requesting immediate action to save lives and allow for disembarkations.

“It is devastating to learn that many people have already lost their lives, including children,” added UNHCR’s Ratwatte.

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