Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Fleeing Rohingya sent back to camps’



‘Fleeing Rohingya sent back to camps’

‘Fleeing Rohingya sent back to camps’

NEARLY 100 Rohingya Muslims were forced back to Myanmar’s Rakhine state after being detained at sea en route to Malaysia, police said on Wednesday, stirring fears of a fresh refugee boat crisis.

Three vessels carrying fleeing Rohingya have now been seized and returned to Rakhine over the past two weeks, as the monsoon season gives way to more favourable, if still treacherous, sailing conditions.

All on board the third boat were being returned to camps around the capital Sittwe in the central part of the state, where more than 120,000 people have been confined since intercommunal violence in 2012.

A photo in local media showed the group huddled on the deck in the baking sun, a scene reminiscent of the boat crisis in 2015 that saw countless Rohingya abandoned by smugglers in the Andaman Sea after authorities shut down trafficking routes.

They were headed for Malaysia when stopped by navy officers on Sunday night off the southern town of Dawei, Police Major Min Lwin said.

“They were all sent back to Sittwe on a navy boat last night,” he said, adding that the group, two thirds of whom were under the age of 18, would arrive on Thursday or Friday.

The plight of Rohingya Muslims languishing in the central part of the state has been overshadowed by last year’s mass exodus of more than 720,000 Rohingya from northern Rakhine.

Those refugees fled over the border into Bangladesh to escape a brutal military crackdown.

UN investigators want Myanmar’s top generals to be prosecuted for genocide over the crackdown, but Myanmar says it was defending itself against Rohingya militants.

Desperation in the refugee camps across the border is also growing.

A repatriation deal has stalled, with Rohingya refusing to go home until their safety and rights are secured.

The stateless minority are denied citizenship in Myanmar and face severe restrictions on movement as well as a lack of access to work, healthcare and schools in what Amnesty International says amounts to apartheid.

One camp leader said under the condition of anonymity that they try to explain to people about the dangers of leaving by boat but many are simply too desperate to listen.

“We are losing hope,” he said. “Nothing has changed in the last six years.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Covid in Kingdom hits ‘critical point’

    The Covid-19 situation in Cambodia has reached a critical point, the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned, as cases surge with two more deaths and 265 infections reported over the weekend. On March 28 alone, the Ministry of Health recorded 86 Covid-19 cases linked to the February 20

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia set for large-scale vaccination campaign as Covid spreads

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed all provincial authorities to get ready for a large-scale vaccination campaign, with at least one million doses to be administered per month. “We will roll out at least one million doses. The vaccines we have purchased and received as

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian