Help the Rohingya refugees, Amnesty tells Malaysia and Thailand

Grigory Matyunin 17-Apr-2020
Rohingya Bangladesh
ID 82955575 © Bayazid Akter | Dreamstime.com

Amnesty International has raised concerns about the welfare of Rohingya refugees stranded aboard five boats, each carrying hundreds of people. It has emerged that dozens of people were dying, stranded on these ships while being denied entry to Malaysia.

Malaysia has confirmed denying entry to two refugee boats in a bid to curtail the spread of covid-19.

Refugees are known to have boarded several boats in large numbers attempting to escape overcrowded conditions in refugee camps. These have been overflowing with Rohingya people fleeing a vicious military crackdown in Myanmar.

On Thursday, Bangladesh saved nearly 400 people in the Bay of Bengal who had spent two months at sea. They had attempted to sail to Malaysia but they were refused entry upon arrival. A different Rohingya boat was intercepted by the Malaysian Navy the same day. The boat was supplied with food and escorted out of Malaysia’s territorial waters.

Critics have dismissed the pretext of containing the coronavirus outbreak as insufficient grounds for denying entry to Rohingya refugees.

Amnesty International urged Malaysia and Thailand to “immediately dispatch search and rescue boats with food, water and medicine to meet the urgent needs of possibly hundreds still at sea”.