Malaysia intercepts boat with Rohingya refugees

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Kuala Lumpur, April 3 (IANS) The Malaysian coast guard on Tuesday intercepted a boat carrying Rohingya refugees and allowed it to disembark at Langkawi island.

A total of 56 people, including women and children, were travelling in the wooden boat that was spotted by the Malaysian coast guard two days ago in southern Thailand, an official told Efe news.

The refugees were in good health and they were provided with food and water, Rosli added.

On Sunday, the boat had stopped on the Thai island of Lanta due to poor weather and re-stocked fuel and provisions before the Thai authorities allowed it to resume its journey toward Malaysia, home to a significant Rohingya diaspora.

This is the first refugee boat in months that has been spotted in the Andaman Sea, where, in 2015, thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants were stranded after they were abandoned by traffickers.

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Several organisations have warned of a similar exodus as the monsoon season approaches and conditions deteriorate in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where about 700,000 Rohingya have been living in cramped conditions since last year.

The mass exodus of the Rohingya from Myanmar’s Rakhine region began on August 26, 2017, after the military launched an offensive.

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed an agreement to start repatriating the Rohingya late January but Dhaka withdrew from the agreement.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens.

–IANS

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