At least 17 Rohingya, including children, killed in boat capsize | Rohingya News

UNHCR expressed shock and sadness following the incident in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Myanmar.

At least 17 Rohingya refugees, including children, have been reported killed after their boat capsized in bad weather off the coast of Myanmar.

The boat, with at least 90 people on board, was en route to Malaysia via the Bay of Bengal when it sank, according to Radio Free Asia. Several bodies have washed up on beaches in the western state of Rakhine, while more than 50 passengers are still missing.

While hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a predominantly Muslim minority, have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh after brutal repression by the army almost five years ago, some were still in Rakhine, where they mostly lived in squalid camps with severe restriction about motion.

The boat left Sittwe, the state capital, on May 19 but encountered bad weather a few days later.

The United Nations refugee agency said it was “shocked and saddened” by the reported deaths and was seeking more information from Myanmar.

“The latest tragedy shows once again the feeling of despair when Rohingya in Myanmar and in the region,” said Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, in a statement. “It is shocking that more and more children, women and men are joining these dangerous journeys and ultimately losing their lives.”

A spokesman for the Myanmar military regime said the boat capsized about five nautical miles west of Thapyay Hmaw Island near Shwe Thaung Yan in southern Rakhine.

“A search was carried out and found 14 dead Bengalis. The rest will be deported as usual,” Major General Zaw Min Tun told RFA using derogatory terms for the Rohingya. He added that a number of suspected human traffickers have been arrested and they are trying to bring the group to Malaysia.

Those wanting to leave the camps in Rakhine typically pay traffickers between 3 and 5 million Myanmar kyats ($1,600-2,700) each, RFA said.

In it annual report Regarding the sea crossings, UNHCR says 2020 is the deadliest year ever for the Rohingya crossing the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Of the 2,413 people who traveled in 2020, 218 died or went missing at sea, the United Nations agency said in its report last August.

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