The plight of the Rohingya boat people

Submitted by AWL on 20 May, 2015 - 7:55 Author: Gemma Short

Thousands of Rohingya migrants, fleeing Myanmar, may be facing death as they drift in the Andaman Sea in boats provided by and now abandoned by people smugglers.

The Rohingya, a persecuted minority in Myanmar, are being turned away from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Boats reaching the coasts of these countries are being towed back out to sea and left adrift after being handed basic provisions, despite starvation, disease, and increasing violence on the boats.

The UN now estimates as many as 8,000 migrants are adrift, and that as many as 25,000 migrants set off from the Bay of Bengal between January and March.

In Myanmar the Rohingya people almost all live in camps of up to 100,000 residents. Food is severely restricted, as is movement in and out of camps, and state forces often attack the camps.

Migrants continue to be rescued from boats in the Mediterranean; on May Day weekend alone the Italian coastguard rescued 6,801 migrants from about 16 boats.

Theresa May has said Britain will not participate in a mandatory EU programme to resettle migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. May continues to argue that EU proposals to deal with the growing crisis will “encourage people to make the perilous journeys to Europe.”

Migrants seeking refuge from oppression, persecution, natural disasters and poverty across the world are faced with the choice of death, disease and poverty at home, or potential death at sea. Open the borders the world over!