Current News

    Thai navy pushes 140 Rohingyas back to sea

    A
    group of Rohingya women and children at Khao Lak shelter in southern
    Thailand (Photo: IRIN)


    Wednesday,
    30 January 2013  THE BANGKOK POST

    Nearly
    350 illegal Rohingya migrants were found crammed inside two vessels
    entering Thai waters in southern Ranong and Phuket provinces on
    Tuesday.

    In
    Ranong, a boat carrying about 140 Rohingya migrants was spotted
    floating about 5.5 kilometres off Phayam island in Muang district
    about 8.30am by a naval patrol boat.



    Naval
    officers provided the illegal migrants with food and water, a source
    said. Humanitarian assistance was also provided to help them on the
    way to their destination.


    The
    Rohingya had to be sent back out to sea as authorities were already
    struggling with an influx of illegal Muslim Rohingya migrants, the
    source said.

    Several
    boats carrying Rohingya have illegally entered Thailand via this
    southern province on a daily basis. In some cases, the Rohingya sunk
    their own boats to prevent authorities from sending them back out to
    sea, the source said.

    In
    Phuket, about 200 illegal Rohingya migrants were found crammed inside
    a vessel searched by marine police and naval officers off Racha Noi
    island in Muang district Tuesday.

    The
    boat was initially spotted floating between Racha Yai and Racha Noi
    islands by fishermen on Monday. They provided the migrants with food
    and water and told the authorities.

    They
    suggested the boat people land on Racha Noi, Phuket’s southernmost
    island, because it was uninhabited. Some of the migrants camped on
    the island overnight, but most remained on the boat.

    A
    combined marine police and navy team descended on the boat late
    Tuesday. It was not known where they were planning to take the
    refugees.

    The
    200 Rohingya are the latest to reach southern Thailand, following a
    series of arrests in Songkhla and at sea in Phangnga province this
    month.

    This
    lifts the total number of illegal Rohingya migrants now in custody to
    about 1,700.

    Meanwhile,
    Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul will lead a delegation of
    Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members to meet Islamic
    leaders and security agencies in the three southernmost border
    provinces tomorrow. He said the delegation would get first-hand
    information about the southern violence.

    He
    will also use this opportunity to seek a solution to the Rohingya
    migrant problem from the OIC and ask the delegation which countries
    wanted to take in the migrants who had fled from Myanmar’s Rakhine
    state to Thailand.

    As
    those migrants had entered Thailand, the kingdom had to provide them
    with temporary assistance on a humanitarian basis, he said.
    Authorities had to work with several international agencies such as
    Unicef and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to find
    a solution.


    This
    article was first published in The Bangkok Post on January 30, 2013.



    Mizzima News