During the week of December 5, Rohingya refugees sent messages of distress from boats adrift at sea. Their families have shared videos of the scenes, while human rights activists have called on neighbouring countries like Thailand to take action.
About 200 mostly Muslim Rohingya have been drifting for several days in the Andaman Sea after their boat broke down, according to relatives of the passengers.
"The boat's engine has broken down, so they are drifting without sufficient food and water. Their relatives in Bangladesh have told Human Rights Watch that between 8 and 16 refugees have already died," the Asian branch of the NGO told us. The boat reportedly left the coast of Bangladesh from Teknaf to Malaysia on November 25.
The mostly Muslim Rohingya have long suffered discrimination and persecution in Myanmar and more than a million people have fled since a brutal military crackdown in 2017. The majority of Rohingya have gone to neighbouring Bangladesh or to other Muslim countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
Both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Human Rights Watch have stressed the urgency of the situation and have repeatedly called on the Thai government and other neighbouring states to help these refugees.
But for the moment, no country has taken action. The news agency Reuters spoke to a Thai naval officer who said that the boat was in Indian waters, which the Indian navy denies.
During the first week of December 2022, passengers on at least two other boats carrying Rohingya refugees also sent messages of distress to their relatives.