Monday, 25 February 2013 12:41 Mizzima News
The UN’s refugee agency has expressed its concern over the growing number of boatpeople dying in the Bay of Bengal, including members of the Rohingya community fleeing Myanmar or from Bangladesh's refugee camps and makeshift sites.
“Most are men, but there are also increasing reports of women and children on these often rickety boats making the journey southwards. We estimate that of the 13,000 people who left on smugglers' boats in 2012, close to 500 died at sea when their boats broke down or capsized,” said UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic.
The spokesman noted that repeated tragedies at sea also demonstrated the need for a coordinated regional response to distress and rescue at sea. To help move this process forward, the UNHCR said it is facilitating discussions between interested governments and international organizations at a regional meeting on irregular movements by sea to be held in Jakarta in March.
Amid continuing news reports of boats being pushed back to sea by some countries, the UNHCR also urged states in the region to keep their borders open to people in need of international protection and to offer assistance and protection until solutions can be found.
UNHCR said it has been advocating with the Myanmar government to urgently address the root causes of the outflow.
- Sri Lankan navy rescues 32 Myanmar boatpeople
- No more Rohingya boatpeople, says Thailand
- Rohingya boatpeople reportedly forced to swim ashore to Malaysia