India rescues 81 Rohingya on drifting boat, 8 dead, one missing | Refugee News

Indian Coast Guard finds 81 survivors and eight dead on a boat packed with Rohingya refugees adrift in the Andaman Sea.

The Indian Coast Guard found 81 survivors and eight dead on a boat crowded with Rohingya refugees adrift in the Andaman Sea, an Indian Foreign Ministry official said.

The official added on Friday that the survivors would not be allowed to enter Indian territory.

A refugee was missing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said of the rescue on Thursday.

The boat had departed on February 11 from Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where refugee camps were established for more than a million Rohingya who fled military repression in neighboring Myanmar in 2017.

After four days at sea, the boat’s engine broke down and the Rohingyas ran out of food and water. Many of them were sick and suffering from extreme dehydration by the time they were rescued, Srivastava said.

Two Indian Coast Guard ships have been dispatched to assist the refugees, 23 of whom were children, and the Indian government is in talks with Bangladesh to ensure their safe return, he said.

Bangladeshi authorities said Monday they were not aware of any boats leaving the camps.

Bangladesh has blocked a number of refugee attempts to navigate the sea in recent years, as human traffickers often lure them with the prospect of a better life in Malaysia or Indonesia.

The United Nations refugee agency sounded the alarm earlier this week over the missing boat.

“We understand that the smugglers’ crew abandoned the ship a few days ago. Without a qualified crew on board, there is a high risk of further harm to refugees and additional deaths, ”Catherine Stubberfield, spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) regional office, said Monday on Monday. Asia and the Pacific. .

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