KUALA LUMPUR: A boat carrying around 300 Rohingya refugees was turned away Thursday by Malaysian authorities as it attempted to reach the country.
In a statement, the Malaysian coast guard said a vessel loaded with people that has been at sea for over three months was stopped when it attempted to enter the country’s waters.
The authorities said the vessel turned back after they sent a patrol vessel.
No statement has been made on the country the Rohingya were coming from.
On June 9, Malaysia detained 269 Rohingya refugees near Langkawi. The government urged Bangladesh to prevent Rohingya from entering Malaysia by sea.
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 refugee camps in Bangladesh 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.