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Rescue efforts urgently needed as hundreds of Rohingya refugees continue to struggle to stave off dehydration and starvation while stranded at sea in Asia

Governments across Asia must immediately undertake coordinated search and rescue operations for the hundreds of Rohingya refugees - including women and children - currently adrift at sea.

Posted on 23 Dec 2022

‘Protecting Rohingya Refugees in Asia’ (PRRiA) project partners, including the Asia Displacement Solutions Platform (ADSP), the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Geutanyoë Foundation Malaysia, HOST International Foundation, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Indonesia, and Mixed Migration Centre (MMC), echo the call from ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) and others for governments in the region to immediately undertake search and rescue operations for the reported hundreds of Rohingya refugees aboard a boat that has been adrift for weeks off the coasts of India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Lifesaving efforts cannot be delayed any longer, as reported deaths continue to mount among those aboard due to starvation and dehydration.

Lilianne Fan, International Director and Co-Founder of Geutanyoë Foundation, notes that the collective inaction of governments in the region “has already resulted in needless suffering including death. Only through comprehensive and coordinated regional action can the lives of Rohingya on this boat - and others - be saved”.

According to reports from relatives of those on the boat, at least 16 people have already died due to the dire conditions. Meanwhile, more than one million additional Rohingya and other refugee groups continue to suffer amid protracted conflict and climate-related disasters across the region exacerbated by humanitarian funding cuts.

Last month at its annual summit, ASEAN leaders affirmed “the importance of upholding international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, as well as ASEAN’s shared values and norms as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter.” The regional body must support search and rescue coordination efforts to immediately address this situation. 

“PRRiA partners recommend immediately triggering the regional emergency response mechanism established within the Bali Process to save lives”, said Mikkel Trolle, Regional Director of DRC Asia. “With support from the wider international community, Asian governments must endeavor to ensure all people across the region can fully realise their fundamental human rights and freedoms.” 

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Regional Advocacy Coordination, DRC Asia

Protecting Refugees in Asia (PRiA)

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