Sixty starve to death on ship with hundreds of Rohingya turned away

A ship with 500 refugees tried to dock in Malaysia and Thailand. The survivors are malnourished and dehydrated.

Cox's Bazar (AsiaNews/Agencies) –  At least 60 Rohingya starved to death on a ship with some 500 people on baord.

The vessel sailed from Bangladesh, across the Gulf of Bengal, for more than two months, seeking a port of call, but when it reached Thai and Malaysian waters it was turned away.

Two days ago, it finally returned to Bangladesh where it was intercepted by the local coast guard.

About a million Rohingya live in refugee camps near the border with Myanmar, from where they fled after a wave of violence in 2017. Since then, thousands of them try to reach other countries each year on rickety boats.

After listening to survivors' account, the coast guard note that refugees, mostly women and children, tried many times to dock in Malaysia and Thailand, but were turned away because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The ship sailed the sea for more than two months without much food, freshwater, and medicines.

At least 60 died and were buried at sea. The ship's captain also died, killed in a fight with the Rohingya. According to some of them he had tried to rape a woman.

The UN refugee agency, which took charge of the refugees in Cox’s Bazar, said the survivors were “extremely malnourished and dehydrated.”