Over 400 emaciated Rohingya refugees return after drifting for two months in Malaysia-bound sea journey
By The Rohingya Post
Around 80% of the refugees are Rohingya women and children while 28 reportedly died in the sea journey
A boat carrying over 400 Rohingya refugees were forced to return to Teknaf, Bangladesh after two months of the perilous sea journey to Malaysia.
On Wednesday, the boat was docked in Baharchara, Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar at around 8:00 pm local time.
It is reported that 482 Rohingya from refugee camps sailed for Malaysia in the lights of travel restrictions in the camps and the COVID-19 pandemic fears.
They were forced to return to Bangladesh after failing to dock in Malaysia where there are strict measures in place to combat the pandemic.
The one-way sea journey is approximately 1,800 km from Teknaf to Langkawi, Malaysia where another boat carrying some 250 Rohingya refugees successfully landed at Langkawi beach on April 5.
However, due to the restrictions, the Malaysian authorities have not granted permission to dock the boat and forced to drift on the sea finding the way back to Bangladesh.
According to a Rohingya returnee, MD. Jobair, they were forced to drift on “the sea without food or water.”
“Some 28 people had died on the boat” as the results of hunger, he continued.
Lt. Cdr M Sohel Rana, Bangladesh Coast Guard who rescued the Rohingya refugees, confirmed the return of the refugees.
Local Bangladeshi residents from Teknaf came into the rescue despite the fear of COVID-19, showing the similar signs displayed during the Rohingya mass-exodus in 2016 and 2017 Myanmar’s campaigns of genocide against the Rohingya community.
According to Kn Neaz’s live footage on their arrival in Teknaf, there are visible distress and fear among the refugees after the perilous thousand-kilometre long sea journey.
It is understood that around 80% of boat people are Rohingya women and children who are in the state of extreme emaciation from the months-long starvation and immobility on the boat.
While Bangladesh remains under the lockdown and over a million Rohingya refugees in various camps observe the social-distancing practice, it is not clear how the government will handle the hundreds of returned Rohingya refugees in the middle of the pandemic.