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Sri Lanka rescues more Myanmar boatpeople

Sailors help rescued survivors at Oluvil fisheries harbour in eastern Sri Lanka Photo 03 February 2013


Source Channel News Asia:
03 February 2013 

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s navy on
Saturday rescued 38 Myanmar nationals who were drifting off the island’s east
coast, the second batch of boatpeople to be saved in as many weeks, officials
said.

Sri Lankan naval craft responding
to a distress call plucked the 38 people from a rickety boat drifting about 250
miles (400 kilometres) off the east coast, a navy official said.

Four of the rescued passengers
required treatment for dehydration and they were being brought to the southern
port of Galle, he said.

“Four people required
medical attention and are out of danger,” the navy official, who asked not
to be named, said. “They will reach shore by tomorrow (Sunday).”

It is the second time in less
than two weeks the navy has gone to help a crippled foreign boat.

On February 3, the navy rescued
138 Bangladeshi and Myanmar nationals from a sinking boat. One of the
passengers in that boat had died before help reached.

Officials said it was unclear if
those identified as Myanmar nationals were Rohingya — members of a stateless
minority described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted groups —
who had fled Myanmar.

An explosion of tensions between
Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine communities in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine
since June 2012 has triggered a seaborne exodus of Rohingya.

Thailand’s navy blocked more than
200 Rohingya boatpeople from entering the kingdom late last month as part of a
new policy under which they will be given food and water but barred from
landing if their boat is seaworthy.

– AFP/xq