Bangladesh rescues 382 Rohingya drifting at sea for weeks

DHAKA, BANGLADESH (AP) — Bangladesh’s coast guard has rescued 382 starving Rohingya refugees who had been drifting at sea for weeks after failing to reach Malaysia, officials said yesterday.

The refugees, mostly women and children, were attempting to land on Bangladesh’s coast in the Teknaf area in Cox’s Bazar late on Wednesday night, said local head of the coast guard Lt Comm M Sohel Rana.

Officials gave varying accounts of whether those rescued had been among the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Rana said the refugees started their journey for Malaysia about two months ago and had been drifting at sea for weeks. “They failed to reach Malaysia and returned,” he said.

Superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar A B M Masud Hossain, said those rescued were lured by traffickers and the owner of the boat was a Myanmar national.

Others said the rescued refugees were from Bangladesh camps.

An intelligence official who talked to at least 10 refugees at the scene said that the refugees were from various camps in Cox’s Bazar district.

He spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The intelligence official said that the boat attempted to land on Malaysia’s coast at least seven times but their attempts were thwarted. He said one refugee told him that several people died on the journey.