Rohingya children dead as stranded refugees face starvation in Bay of Bengal, families say


Many Rohingya are feared lifeless at sea greater than three weeks after their boat grew to become stranded off the Indian coast, the place at the least 160 folks stay aboard on the point of hunger, relations and the United Nations’ refugee company stated.

Mohammed Rezuwan Khan, whose sister and 5-year-old niece are on the vessel, instructed CNN Wednesday that two youngsters and a girl had died, including that these nonetheless alive have “no water, meals or drugs.”

“We’re extraordinarily involved and wish them to be rescued. It’s rising more and more troublesome for them to outlive,” stated Khan, including that he final spoke to the boat’s captain on Sunday.

The boat, at the moment close to the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands within the Bay of Bengal, has reportedly been adrift since late November when its engine minimize out.

It’s thought to have been heading to Malaysia from Bangladesh, the place round 1 million Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority, stay in refugee camps after fleeing violence of their native Myanmar.

In this file photo, Rohingya refugees sit on a wooden boat as Indonesian officials conduct an evacuation at the Krueng Geukueh port in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, Indonesia, Dec. 31, 2021.

CNN can’t independently confirm whether or not any deaths have occurred on the boat. A United Nations spokesman stated there have been “unverified reviews suggesting at the least 20 folks might have already died throughout this stunning ordeal.”

Babar Baloch, an Asia spokesperson for the UN Excessive Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), urged each India and Sri Lanka to assist rescue these aboard.

“Fast motion is required to avoid wasting lives and keep away from additional deaths,” Baloch stated. “We repeat our warning that inaction from states to avoid wasting lives is leading to extra human distress and tragedies with every passing day.”

A bunch of Southeast Asian lawmakers has additionally urged neighboring international locations to “urgently rescue” the boat, in accordance with an announcement from ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights.

The enchantment comes days after the Sri Lankan Navy rescued a ship carrying 104 Rohingya refugees.

CNN has reached out to the Indian and Sri Lankan navies for remark.

Baloch stated the UN believes some 2,000 Rohingya have taken the dangerous sea journey this 12 months alone.

Many go away from the overcrowded refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the place circumstances are dire and girls are vulnerable to sexual assault and violence.

The camps have swelled over the previous 5 years as a whole lot of hundreds of Rohingya fled a brutal marketing campaign of killing and arson by the Myanmar navy in western Rakhine state.

Life on the camps has its personal risks. Fires are frequent and have destroyed a whole lot of properties, whereas floods in the course of the monsoon season usually wipe out the poorly constructed huts.

Determined to depart, many pay unlawful traffickers to smuggle them out of the camps.

Khan stated his sister was searching for a greater life for her daughter, and determined to aim the damaging sea journey out of Bangladesh on November 25.

“The Rohingya individuals are rising determined, they’re keen to danger their lives,” Khan stated.

The perilous voyage from Cox’s Bazaar to Malaysia can take weeks, and circumstances at sea are difficult.

Many on the stranded boat are ingesting rain water after they can, Khan stated, including some are rising so determined, they’re ingesting water from the ocean.

Rahan Uddin stated his 17-year-old brother was additionally on the boat, having boarded within the hope of discovering a job and incomes sufficient cash to assist together with his ailing dad and mom’ medical payments.

“We’re very involved about him and his security,” Uddin stated. “We don’t know if he’s alive or not.”

Whereas all international locations are sure by worldwide legislation to rescue folks in misery at sea, swift motion is just not all the time forthcoming – significantly the place Rohingya refugees are involved.

In December final 12 months, Indonesia agreed to assist restore a stranded boat full of greater than 100 Rohingya refugees off its coast, however didn’t permit its passengers to hunt refuge within the nation.

In March 2020, a bigger boat carrying nearly 300 Rohingya spent greater than six months adrift at sea. Its passengers had been turned away by a number of international locations earlier than lastly being accepted by Indonesia. By then, at the least 30 folks together with girls and youngsters had died. Many surviving girls stated they had been assaulted on board the vessel.

Final 12 months, India’s Supreme Courtroom dominated that Rohingya refugees in India might be forcibly returned to Myanmar.

India is just not occasion to the UN Refugee Conference and lacks a nationwide refugee safety construction, in accordance with the UNHCR. Rohingya refugees are sometimes labeled unlawful immigrants topic to deportation from India.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities has been criticized for attempting to ship again Rohingya through the years.

Khan stated he needs the worldwide group “to please see us as human beings.”

“Let our folks disembark from the boat,” he stated. “Please save the Rohingya. In any other case, we might die.”

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