Pattaya Daily News

31 January 2013 :: 10:01:44 am 71220

Rohingya refugees helped by Phuket’s Thai Navy

Around 205 Rohingya packed into a crowded boat arrived in Phuket waters near Racha Noi island yesterday (January 29), before being met by the Thai Navy who gave them fresh water before moving them on towards Malaysia.
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The fishermen found a vessel crammed with 205 male Rohingya, both adults and children, who were in desperate need of food and water. The group had left Myanmar on January 25 on their way to Malaysia, where they will be more likely be allowed to stay.

The Rohingya were trying to get to land because after four days of travelling in the crowded boat, their food and water was starting to run out. Locals pushed their boat away from the shore before calling the Thai Navy to come and help.

The Navy gave the Rohingya drinking water, and sprayed them with water to cool them down from the heat – many of the people had spent hours on the boat’s outside deck under the scorching sun.

The Rohingya then gave the Navy men a round of applause to say thank you for their help before heading off towards Malaysia.

Meanwhile in Ranong, a boat carrying about 140 Rohingya migrants was spotted floating about 5.5 kilometres off Phayam island yesterday. The Rohingya there were also given food and water before leaving for Malaysia.

Around 500 Rohingya, originating from the Rakhine State in Myanmar, remain in Phang Nga after arriving to Thailand via boat in recent months. They are now living in Kura Buri community hall, Ban Hin Lad Mosque and Takua Pa foster homes and are being cared for by the community.

Prior to yesterday, the most recent arrival of Rohingya was the 93 who arrived in Phang Nga last Sunday (January 27).

Manit Pianthong, Kura Buri District Chief told The Phuket News that immigration officers were helping them create identification profiles, and medical staff were giving them vaccines and checking their health.

“Donations of clothes, blankets, food and water keeps arriving, while the Muslim group from Ban Hin Lad Mosque also came to help cook Muslim food for the Rohingya,” Mr Manit said.

Pheu Thai spokesman Prompong Nopparit visited Kura Buri last Saturday (January 26), and said he had ordered 200 bags of rice, along with clothes for women and children, to be sent to the area.

He had also coordinated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and would request a budget for the next six months to help the Rohingya.

A top official said on Monday that Thailand will turn away any more Rohingya boat people from neighbouring Myanmar who try to land on its shores.

“The Thai navy from now on will be stricter with them and will no longer allow them to land,” National Security Council secretary-general Paradorn Pattanathabutr said.

“If we find them, we will provide them with food, water and necessities so they can go to their destinations,” he added.

An explosion of tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine since June 2012 has triggered a huge exodus of Muslim Rohingya, mostly heading for Muslim-majority Malaysia, where they are more likely to be allowed to remain.

More than 1,000 have been detained by Thailand after landing on its shores.

Mr Paradorn said the existing detainees would be allowed to stay in Thailand for six months at immigration centres or local police stations while the government works with the UN refugee agency to find third countries willing to accept them.

The tougher stance comes a week after Thai authorities said they were investigating allegations that army officials were involved in the trafficking of Rohingya boat people.

The UN estimates that about 13,000 boat people fled Myanmar and Bangladesh in 2012, with some dying during often perilous sea voyages.

Anyone willing to donate to the Rohingya in Phang Nga can contact Ahmad Layah, Vice President of Islamic Council in Phang Nga, on 086-741-7450.

View the original story on The Phuket News here.

Category : Thailand News

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