Bangladesh urges Britain to rescue Rohingyas stranded at sea

Dhaka, Apr 28 (efe-epa).- Bangladesh on Tuesday urged Britain to send its Royal ship to rescue and shelter some 500 Rohingyas stranded in two fishing boats in the Bay of Bengal amid growing international pressure to accept them.

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen made the call after British state minister for foreign affairs for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmed, requested him by phone to shelter the group of refugees.

Rights groups say that two fishing trawlers carrying hundreds of Rohingya women, men, and children are stuck in the Bay after Malaysian authorities pushed them away.

The two trawlers are headed towards Bangladesh a week after an earlier vessel carrying nearly 400 Rohingya refugees arrived there on Apr.15.

Bangladesh authorities on Apr 16 rescued 396 Rohingyas who were trying to enter the country in a boat from the southern coast, after 58 days at sea.

Most of them had left refugee camps in Bangladesh for Malaysia but they were unable to enter the country or any other place and decided to return, said a Bangladesh coastguard spokesperson.

Quoting the rescued Rohingyas, the coastguard official said at least 28 people died because there was no food or water available, and the bodies were dumped into the sea.

Bangladesh said it would not accept any more Rohingyas as its priority was now to protect the refugee camp area where tens of thousands are currently living in the southeast of the country.

“Despite limited resources, Bangladesh showed humanity by sheltering 1.1 million Rohingyas,” Momen said in a statement, adding that 500 Rohingyas was a little number compared to that but “they are not in Bangladesh territory now”.

“Though Bangladesh was requested to shelter them on humanitarian ground similar request was not made to any other country of this region,” said the Bangladeshi minister.

Momen said the other countries of the world, especially the developed nations, should take 1.1 million Rohingyas to their countries and shelter them.

“The responsibility of sheltering the Rohingyas also lies in the other countries of the region.”

The minister also criticized the right groups for not being very “vocal” about an ongoing military operation in Myanmar’s Rakhine.

He said Rohingyas the Myanmar Army was killing Rohingyas and pushing more members of the group towards Bangladesh.

New York-based rights group Human Rights Watch last week urged the Bangladesh government to allow Rohingyas stranded in trawlers to come ashore and receive necessary food, water, and health care.

“Bangladesh has shouldered a heavy burden as the result of the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes, but this is no excuse to push boatloads of refugees out to sea to die,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW in a statement.

Nearly 738,000 Rohingya refugees are living in camps in Bangladesh since Aug. 25, 2017, following a wave of persecution and violence in Myanmar that the UN has described as a textbook example of ethnic cleansing and possible genocide.

Undocumented Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been using the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to reach other countries in a quest for a better life.

At least 15 Rohingyas drowned in February when a boat carrying them sank off the coast of Bangladesh while on its way to Malaysia. EFE-EPA


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