Photo: Refugees from Myanmar arrive in Bangladesh. Kathleen Prior/CARE Australia 2017
23 February 2021, Bangkok, Thailand - CARE’s Interim Vice President for Humanitarian Policy and Practice, Deepmala Mahla, responds to reports that Rohingya refugees are adrift on a boat in the Andaman Sea.
“CARE is deeply concerned for the safety of Rohingya refugees stranded at sea and appeals for countries on the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal to immediately conduct a search and rescue mission and allow the distressed passengers to disembark in a safe location. The refugees reportedly departed Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf, Bangladesh some ten days ago, with the boat’s engine breaking down around a week ago.
“We are hearing extremely troubling reports of deaths on board the boat, with others in crucial need of medical care. The current situation eerily mirrors last year’s boat crisis. Undoubtedly, those aboard this boat are facing similar, harrowing conditions. With zero protection from the elements, it is only a matter of time before others succumb, unless urgent action is taken to rescue those on board and transport them to a safe place with shelter and medical care.
“Risking lives at sea speaks volumes about the unbearable conditions and grave risks these refugees are trying to escape. States must uphold their obligations under international laws and rescue those in distress at sea, irrespective of their status or nationalities. Governments in the region must act now to save lives and bring dignity to the surviving passengers, who are desperately clinging to their last glimmer of hope; and put an end to these desperate journeys.
“Until the root causes that lead to the forced displacement of Rohingya are addressed, governments in the region must immediately enact a coordinated regional response to ensure no more lives are lost.”
Founded in 1945, CARE is one of the largest and oldest humanitarian aid organisations fighting global poverty. CARE has a special focus on empowering and meeting the needs of women and girls and promoting gender equality and works in 104 countries around the world.
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