The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, has sounded the alarm for Rohingya refugees who have been floating on a boat in the Andaman Sea near Bangladesh for ten days. Eight people on board have died, according to human rights organization The Arakan Project.
The boat drifted after the engine failed about a week ago. Refugees told UNHCR that there was virtually no food or water on board and that many people were sick, in part due to extreme dehydration. “Immediate action is needed to save lives and prevent further tragedies,” UNHCR said.
It is not known how many people are on the boat, where exactly the boat is and what the intended destination is. Indian Coast Guard says boat is near Andaman Islands and Nicobaren floats around. Indian Navy ships reportedly gave the refugees food and water, but as far as is known the boat was not towed and no one disembarked. The Indian Navy will issue a statement later today.
The boat left the Bengali town of Cox’s Bazar, where millions of Rohingyas live in refugee camps. Over the past three years, tens of thousands of them have been forcibly removed from neighboring Myanmar. “After years of isolation in Bangladesh and the recent coup in Myanmar, many Rohingya feel compelled to take this dangerous journey,” an Amnesty International spokesperson told Reuters news agency .