• Thursday, Jul 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 10:59 am

HRW urges Bangladesh to allow Rohingyas stranded at sea to dock

  • Published at 02:51 pm April 25th, 2020
Malaysia Rohingya
File photo: A boat carrying suspected ethnic Rohingya migrants is seen detained in Malaysian territorial waters on April 5, 2020 Reuters

Even on April 15 Bangladesh took in a ship carrying 396 Rohingyas who have been stranded at sea for months, denied entry by Malaysia

There have been reports that there are two trawlers with hundreds of Rohingyas adrift on the Bay of Bengal.

International NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the Bangladeshi government to allow the refugees to dock and receive necessary healthcare, food, and water.

HRW made the call in a statement released on Saturday.

Since August, 2017, Bangladesh has provided refuge to the Rohingyas who fled from the atrocities and crimes against humanity by the Myanmar government.

At present more than a million Rohingyas are living in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. Many tried to flee to other countries but ultimately are coming back to Bangladesh after being denied entry.

Even on April 15, Bangladesh took in a ship carrying 396 Rohingyas who have been stranded at sea for months, denied entry by Malaysia.

However, on April 23, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said the country would refuse entry to more Rohingyas.

He said: “I am opposed to allowing these Rohingya into the country because Bangladesh is always asked to take care of the responsibility of other countries.

“Because the Covid-19 pandemic had increased the number of Bangladeshis returning to the country, we have no room to shelter any foreign people or refugees."

Having the same point of view, Kazi Reazul Hoque, former chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said: “We do not understand why the Human Rights Watch cannot ask any other country to share their land now as Bangladesh is struggling to combat coronavirus.”

“HRW should request other countries like Australia, Indonesia or Malaysia as they are in a better condition in terms of the coronavirus situation and also have better resources,” he added.

Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said: “Bangladesh has shouldered a heavy burden as the result of the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes, but this is no excuse to push boatloads of refugees out to sea to die.

“Bangladesh should continue to help those at grave risk and preserve the international goodwill it has gained in recent years for helping the Rohingya,” he added.

All countries, including Malaysia and Thailand, have the responsibility under international law to respond to boats in distress, enact or coordinate rescue operations within their search and rescue operations, and not push back asylum seekers risking their lives at sea, Human Rights Watch said.

UNHCR on April 23,  raised serious concerns about the pushbacks, urging greater coordination and responsibility-sharing by states to address the maritime movements of refugees and asylum-seekers in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

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