After the tragic capsizing of a boat carrying Rohingya refugees off the coast of St. Martins Island in the Bay of Bengal, The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are closely liaising with Bangladesh government to offer assistance.
The incident happened in the early hours of February 11, with the authorities initially reporting 15 drowned, while at least 68 has been rescued.
The vessel packed with refugees was trying to make its way to Malaysia from camps near the resort town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.
“UNHCR and IOM are saddened by this tragic loss of life and, together with other UN and NGO partners, are standing by to offer assistance to the government in responding to the needs of the survivors, be it food, shelter or medical aid,” a statement from both agencies said.
Irregular boat movements are not new to the Cox’s Bazar district, as both Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis risk the unsafe journey to travel abroad due to compelling circumstances.
Recognizing the dangers they face at sea, the UN has been working with government authorities to raise awareness among refugees and local people on the risks they may face.
The UN is also supporting the strengthening of law enforcement capacities to address smuggling and trafficking and to protect those most at risk. Support is also available in the district to trafficking survivors. (Source: IOM)