Malaysia allows Rohingya refugees to enter after intercepting boat

Malaysia's top maritime agency on Tuesday intercepted a boat carrying almost five dozen Rohingya near the country's northwestern coast, officials said.

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said it has increased patrols in the Malacca Straits and Andaman Sea, especially near Langkawi island, after hearing of Sunday's stopover of a fishing boat with 56 people at an island in southern Thailand's Krabi province. The group belongs to the ethnic Rohingya community, which has been at the receiving end of what the United Nations calls a "systematic ethnic cleansing" in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. The coastguard said there were 19 men, 17 women, 12 girls and eight boys on the boat.

"[MMEA] provided early aid such as food, water and medicine", said North Regional Director Adm. Rozali Mohammed Said.

The U.N. says about 150,000 refugees in Bangladesh's southeast - where almost one million Rohingya in total live in shanties on hillsides - are extremely vulnerable to disease and disaster this rainy season.

Richardson, a former US ambassador to the United Nations and President Bill Clinton's energy secretary, castigated Suu Kyi for blaming outsiders for the crisis instead of looking honestly at military actions that have forced the Rohingya to flee to squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh, where they have spoken of mass killings, rapes and the obliteration of whole villages in Myanmar.

Almost 700,000 Rohingyas have crossed over into Bangladesh since a military offensive began in response to an insurgent attack on August 25 previous year.

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Its arrival came as fears grow about conditions in overcrowded camps for the minority fleeing violence in Myanmar.

Adisorn said Thai villagers supplied them with food and fuel before sending them on their way. He said he assumed the boat in Thailand was the third one.

Dhaka: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday it was concerned about the safety of 56 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar on a boat bound for Malaysia in stormy seas. Myanmar blames Rohingya militants for an August 25 strike on security posts in Rakhine state that triggered a fierce army crackdown. Transnational human trafficking syndicates working in concert with various authorities operated numerous boats.

"The Rohingya people have already suffered serious abuses in Myanmar, and unless exceptional measures are taken, their suffering will continue in Bangladesh when the monsoon season starts this month", said George Soros, founder and chair of the Open Society Foundations.

"People can no longer use any river and sea route to go to Malaysia as we have stopped movement of boats on the Bangladesh side of the river Naf [that divides Myanmar and Bangladesh]", Afrozul Haque Tutul, additional superintendent of police in Cox's Bazar, told BenarNews.

The report also suggests the federal government could target more of Myanmar's military leaders under its new Magnitsky Act that seeks to isolate human rights abusers by freezing assets and blocking travel.

  • Desiree Holland