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Over three hundred Myanmar Migrant workers have been stranded on a boat in the Andaman Sea for over we week with no food or water, according to international news reports, ten people have already died. Some have resorted to drinking urine. The fishing boat carrying the Rohingya Muslims has been refused entry to Thailand.
BBC news reporter Jonathan Head was filmed on a boat sailing next to the doomed vessel said that the crew has abandoned the migrants and disabled the engine leaving the passengers adrift, the bodies of those who have died have been thrown overboard.
Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have been turning away migrant boats, several thousand people are believed to be stuck between the coasts of Thailand and Malaysia.
The Rohingya Muslims cannot go back to Myanmar as they are recognized as citizens of the country, they are regularly persecuted. Some of those adrift in the Andaman Sea have been provided with food and water by the Thai Navy.
BBC reporter Jonathan Head said “ Nobody wants them, and seeing them off the southern coast of Thailand near Koh Lipe, is a desperate site as they beg for food and water”. Many of those on board are women and children.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division told the BBC: “They’re [Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia] playing a game of marine ping-pong not wanting to take in the Rohingyas.
He said it was necessary for the three countries to work together in rescuing them before they decide who is going to take responsibility for them.
“This is an urgent humanitarian crisis and the Thais and others seem to be taking a gentle stroll.”
In the meantime the police commissioner General Somyos Pumpamuang lashed out at international humanitarian organizations for faulting Thailand for not helping the Rohingya migrants while at the same time not offering any assistance themselves.
Thai police and their Malaysian counterparts have reached an agreement for joint cooperation to resolve the issue, he said.
Thailand has clearly affirmed the determination to ban human traffickers to use its territory as a transit point to transport Rohingya people to a third country, such as Malaysia, he said.
The authorities will provide assistance for the migrants waiting for resettlement as per the country’s obligations under international agreements, he said.
He said humanitarian organisations should provide tangible assistance to these migrants instead of seeking publicity by bashing Thailand.
The burden to take care of Rohingya people is worrisome because the resettlement would take a long time to process while the number of migrant population would keep on multiplying, he said.
Due to strict measures to ban the trafficking of Rohingya people, the migrant boat landing has stopped in coastal areas from Chumphon to the Malaysian borders.
Police reports indicate the growing number of migrant boats off Thailand’s coast as they had left Myanmar and headed for a new destination to land.
The national police commissioner said the Rohingya migration issue could not be compared to the Vietnamese boat people at the end of Vietnam War in the 1970s.
Vietnam eventually accepted the boat people to return to their homeland after failing to seek resettlement, he said, noting that Myanmar does not recognised Rohingya people as her citizens.