Boat of Refugees Destined for Malaysia Brought Ashore Near Yangon

By San Yamin Aung 16 November 2018

YANGON— More than 100 Rohingya Muslims found aboard an overcrowded boat destined for Malaysia early on Friday morning are being held in a cyclone shelter in Thante village in Yangon’s Kyauktan Township, according to a regional lawmaker.

Local authorities found a boat carrying 106 Rohingya—including 25 children, 50 men and 31 women—near Thante village, inland from the Gulf of Martaban, at around 4am, according to Daw Thet Thet Mu, Yangon regional lawmaker of Kyauktan.

The lawmaker said a few passengers on the boat who can speak Burmese explained they had fled from a refugee camp in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in a bid to reach Malaysia.

The refugees were lured by a broker who said he could get them to Malaysia where they could make substantial earnings. Suffering from food shortages and financial hardships in their camp in Sittwe, they decided to take the opportunity and set out on the voyage as a group of 107.

When local authorities in Kyauktan found them, they had been on the boat for 20 days during which time one woman had died on the boat.

“They have no food. They carry nothing with them,” said Daw Thet Thet Mu. The locals of Kyauktan cooked for the refugees and distributed food at the shelter this morning, she said.

Local police did not immediately respond to telephone calls from The Irrawaddy.

The lawmaker said Yangon Region’s minister for security and border affairs was at the shelter and told her they will deal with the refugees in accordance with the law.