DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA): At least 16 Rohingya Muslim refugees died early Tuesday when their boat capsized near Saint Martin’s island in the Bay of Bengal, said an official.
“We have initially come to know that all the dead are members of the Rohingya community living in the refugee camps,” local administration chief Md. Kamal Hossain told Anadolu Agency.
Hossain said the dead have been brought to the nearest coast.
“Our team is there, and we are still continuing the rescue operation,” he added.
The Bangladesh Coast Guard and a naval force are jointly conducting the rescue drive, said the coast guard’s media wing.
“We have also rescued 63 people alive, mostly Rohingya,” an official from the media wing told Anadolu Agency.
The official, who preferred not to be named, added that at least 40 people were still missing.
Meanwhile, citing a coast guard commander, local private television channel Jamuna TV reported that 20 bodies have been recovered, most of them Rohingya.
The death toll may rise, he said, adding they were trying to locate the missing.
More than one million Rohingya refugees are currently living in squalid makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar amid sub-human conditions.
Several attempts to peacefully repatriate Rohingya to their homeland in Myanmar’s Rakhine state have failed in the past year, leading to frustration among the persecuted people over their future in the camps and prompting them to choose risky sea routes to illegally migrate to Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience”.
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down while 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
Source: Muslim News, By Md. Kamruzzaman
Feature Image : AP/PTI file