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Fresh wave of Rohingya refugees arrive south of Phuket

An estimated 200 Rohingya refugees landed on the uninhabited island of Koh Racha Noi, 25 kilometers south of Phuket, this morning. Photo: Royal Thai Navy

January 29, 2013

PHUKET: An estimated 200 Rohingya refugees landed
on Koh Racha Noi this morning, as reports simultaneously flooded in of another
convoy, carrying about 180 men, women and children, coming ashore at Koh Phra
Thong on the Phang Nga coast.

have received reports of about 200 men, women and children travelling in two
open boats landing on Koh Racha Noi,” an officer of the Royal Thai Navy
confirmed to the Phuket Gazette.
“We have also received reports that another 180
Rohingya have landed on Koh Phra Thong, in Phang Nga,” the officer added.

Rawai Deputy Mayor Nikorn Foosaksomboon told
the Gazette that his office is dispatching a boat to Koh Racha
Noi with basic provisions and water to render assistance to the refugees.

“We will be sending medical officers as soon as we
can to make sure they are okay,” he added.

Racha Noi lies about 25 kilometers south of
Phromthep Cape, Phuket’s southernmost tip. The island is a popular day-trip
destination for Phuket tourists to snorkel and scuba dive.

The news of more Rohingya landing along the Andaman
seaboard comes as immigration facilities in Phang Nga are already overloaded by
the huge influx of Rohingya in recent weeks.

Officials have been forced to relocate hundreds of
Rohingya to immigration centers in other provinces across Southern Thailand

State news agency MCOT reported yesterday that the
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought clarification from a variety
of agencies on the plight and options for the well over 1,000 Rohingya migrants
currently in Thai custody (story here).

Commission member Niran Pitakvachara said the
Burmese Rohingya Association in Thailand, led by Vinai Salem, recently
petitioned the agency to help prevent the repatriation of Rohingya migrants to
Myanmar, their country of origin.

A total of 1,486 Rohingya ethnic people have been
detained at various shelters in Southern Thailand. Among them, 264 are women
and children, said the MCOT report.

Additional reporting by Chutharat Plerin