With No Options Left, They Keep Risking Lives by Boat

But 1 in 8 Rohingya refugees who flee Myanmar or camps in Bangladesh are lost at sea
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 1, 2024 3:40 PM CST
With No Options Left, They Keep Risking Lives by Boat
Ethnic Rohingyas sit on a beach after they land in Kuala Parek Beach, East Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024.   (AP Photo/Husna Mura)

Across a treacherous stretch of water, the Rohingya came by the thousands, then died by the hundreds. Last year, nearly 4,500 ethnic Rohingya Muslims—two-thirds of them women and children—fled their homeland of Myanmar and refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh by boat, the United Nations' refugee agency reported. Of those, 569 died or went missing while crossing the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, meaning one out of every eight Rohingya who attempted the crossing never made it. Yet despite the risks, there are no signs the stream of Rohingya is ebbing. On Thursday, Indonesian officials said another boat carrying Rohingya refugees landed in the country's northern province of Aceh, per the AP.

  • Desperation: Inside the squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than 750,000 Rohingya fled in 2017 following sweeping attacks by Myanmar's military, the situation has grown increasingly desperate. A surge in killings, kidnappings, and arson attacks by militant groups in the camps has left residents fearing for their lives. And so, starving, scared, and out of options, they continue to board the boats.

  • Indifference: Global indifference toward the Rohingya crisis has left those languishing in the overcrowded camps with few alternatives to fleeing. Because Bangladesh bans the Rohingya from working, their survival is dependent upon food rations, which were slashed last year due to a drop in global donations. Returning safely to Myanmar is virtually impossible for the Rohingya, because the military that attacked them overthrew Myanmar's democratically elected government in 2021.
  • No offers: No country is offering the Rohingya any large-scale resettlement opportunities. Read the full story.
(More Rohingya stories.)

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