At least 23 dead, 30 missing after boat sinks in Rohingya
The bodies of 23 Rohingya refugees have been recovered after their boat sank in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The mishap is reported to have killed eight people, while thirty other people are still missing.
Survivors said their boat, which carried more than 50 passengers, foundered and was abandoned by its crew on Sunday while trying to reach Malaysia.
The perilous sea journey from Myanmar to Malaysia or Indonesia is attempted by thousands of Rohingyas every year.
Refugee camps in Bangladesh are overcrowded and they are fleeing persecution in Myanmar. A rescue team told Burmese that 13 women and 10 men, all Rohingya Muslims, died this week.
Muslims make up the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar, which is predominantly Buddhist. As a result of the Burmese military’s genocide campaign launched in 2017, many of them fled to Bangladesh. In the years since the military coup in 2021, Myanmar’s remaining citizens have also tried to flee.
The boat’s survivors recall being struck by a large wave near Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine.
According to the report, the smugglers abandoned the boat after receiving around $4,000 (£3,153) per person for the journey. It is likely that the bodies of the victims have been picked up by other boats or washed ashore.
At the height of the monsoon storm season, the long voyage across the Andaman Sea in overcrowded fishing boats is especially dangerous.
It is between the months of October and May that Rohingyas attempt to cross the border.
Since they are forced to live in unrelentingly grim conditions, they are willing to take the risk – and often sell their only assets, such as land, to fund the trip. In Bangladesh, they live in appallingly crowded camps, while in Myanmar, they are discriminated against and restricted from moving.