Rohingya refugees floating at sea land on Bangladesh island

DHAKA (AP) — At least 29 Rohingya refugees from a fishing boat floating in the Bay of Bengal for weeks have landed on an island in southern Bangladesh, officials said yesterday.

The refugees, including 15 women and six children, landed on Bhasan Char island last Saturday and are believed to be from one of several boats stuck at sea, said local chief government official in Noakhali district Tonmoy Das.

Das said food, doctors and a team of 10 policemen were sent to the island to take care of the refugees.

An official from Bangladesh’s Refugee Commissioner’s office in Cox’s Bazar district said the office was aware of the development. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Rights groups say hundreds of Rohingya are stranded on at least two fishing trawlers between Bangladesh and Malaysia. The refugees reportedly attempted to illegally reach Malaysia, but failed because of strict patrols to keep out the coronavirus.

More than 700,000 Rohingya came to Bangladesh starting in August 2017, when the military in Myanmar began a harsh crackdown against them in response to an attack by insurgents. Global rights groups and the United Nations (UN) have called the campaign ethnic cleansing involving rapes, killings and torching of thousands of homes. Currently more than one million Rohingya live in Bangladesh.