UN calls for immediate rescue of Rohingya refugees adrift in Andaman Sea


The United Nations refugee agency called on various governments for the immediate rescue of a group of Rohingya refugees who were adrift in their boat in the Andaman Sea, without food or water.

It is thought that many of the passengers are ill and suffering from extreme dehydration.

The agency said it understood some passengers had died, with fatalities rising over the weekend on a boat it said had left Bangladesh about 10 days ago and experienced engine failure.

In a statement, the United Nations refugee agency said “immediate action is needed to save lives and prevent further tragedy”.

“We appeal to all governments to deploy their search and rescue capacities and promptly disembark those in distress,” their statement said.

The Arakan Project, a human rights group, says at least eight people on board have died – mostly from dehydration.

The group estimates the vessel is carrying some 90 people, including 65 women and girls.

“They have no drinking water or food left, so they are drinking sea water in desperation,” Chris Lewa, the group’s director, told the News Minute website.

The BBC contacted the Indian navy and coastguard, who denied the vessel was in their waters. However, a senior Indian coast guard official confirmed to Reuters that the boat had been located near the islands.

Earlier on Monday, Ms Lewa said Indian navy vessels close by had provided food and water.

The UN says more than 740,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh, with the majority living in sprawling refugee camps, with some then trying to move onto Malaysia and Indonesia by boat.

More than 200 Rohingya are believed to have died or gone missing at sea last year while trying to make the perilous journey, according to the UN. (Source: BBC)