The United Nations Refugee Agency has urged countries in Southeast Asia to rescue some 200 Rohingya refugees whose unseaworthy boat has been reported drifting in the Andaman Sea, Aljazeera reported.
The UNCHR said in a statement on Thursday that it had received reports that the Rohingya had been stranded on a boat off the coast of Thailand since its engines failed on December 1.
“There is a significant risk of additional fatalities in the coming days if people are not rescued and disembarked to safety,” it said.
“Seven years after the Andaman Sea crisis, which saw an extensive loss of lives, Rohingya people continue to risk everything in dangerous journeys to escape persecution at home in military-run Myanmar.” Amnesty International’s Southeast Asia Researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said in a statement.
“International humanitarian law requires the rescue of people at sea when they are in distress, and their delivery to a place of safety. Swift action is needed to protect lives. Further delays to alleviate this suffering or any attempts to send Rohingya back to Myanmar where they face persecution are unconscionable.”
Some 1,920 people, mostly Rohingya, travelled by sea from January to November 2022, from Myanmar and Bangladesh, compared with only 287 in 2021, according to the UNHCR.
Some 119 people were reported dead or missing on these journeys, it added