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    Phuket Immigration seeks help in coping with overload of Rohingya arrivals

    Exhausted and hungry, the Rohingya refugees wait to be
    processed at Phuket Immigration. Photo: Phuket Marine Police
    Phuket Gazette:
    March 31, 2013
    PHUKET: The arrival of more than 100 Rohingya men,
    women and children last weekend has left Phuket Immigration overflowing, with
    no respite on the horizon.
    The huge influx of refugees fleeing strife-torn
    Myanmar has forced Phuket Immigration to seek help elsewhere, said Capt Angkarn
    Yasanop.
    Of the 102 Rohingya taken into custody last weekend
    when the refugees sought shelter on Koh Lone after their boat engine seized, 35
    men were transferred to Ranong Immigration (story here).
    “The women and children are now at a shelter on Koh
    Sireh [on the east side of Phuket Town],” Capt Angkarn explained.
    “We had to transfer some of them because Phuket
    Immigration was built to accommodate only 50 people,” Capt Ankarn said, noting
    that 67 Rohingya were still currently under detention.
    And Ranong Immigration is also running out of room
    following the arrest of another group of 39 Rohingya by Takuapa Police at Tab
    Tawan beach in Phang Nga last Saturday.
    “Police received a report from fishermen that they had
    spotted a ‘suspicious’ boat at sea. At first we saw only an empty boat moored
    at Tab Tawan beach in Ban Tab Tawan,” Takuapa Police Superintendent Khemarin
    Hatsiri said.
    “Police looked around the area and found the refugees
    in a sea gypsy village,” Col Khemarin said.
    “We arrested 37 men and two women who told us they
    left Rakhine state in a fishing boat on March 6. They intended to reach either
    Thailand or Malaysia to look for work.
    “They said they were very exhausted and hungry from
    the journey. They survived on water and uncooked rice,” he explained.
    “They looked pitiful, and some of them cried out loud
    when they saw us,” Col Khemarin added.
    “We offered them food and water, then brought them all
    to Takuapa police station to be processed. We intended to transfer them to
    Phang Nga Immigration,” he said, “but Phang Nga Immigration has no room for
    them; they are already at maximum capacity with Rohingya arrested previously,”
    he explained.
    “We do not have a place to detain them while they wait
    to be deported,” he stated.
    “I would like to ask the government to resolve the
    problem of Rohingya as soon as possible,” Col Khemarin urged.
    Phuket Immigration Superintendent Col Sunchai
    Chokkajaykij said he did not know how long he will have to keep the Koh Lone
    arrivals in custody.
    “We are waiting for orders from our superiors in
    Bangkok,” he said.
    “There are more than 1,000 Rohingya being detained
    across the country. We do not have room for all of them,” Col Sunchai added.
    Meanwhile, Phuket Immigration is calling for donations
    of essentials for the new arrivals.
    “We are requesting donations of food, toiletries and
    clothes for the Rohingya,” Capt Angkarn said.
    “Especially useful would be donations of household
    medicines and skincare products. Many of them have suffered severe sunburn and
    dehydration from their journey in the open boat,” he added.
    Additional reporting by Kritsada Mueanhawong