DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – At least 348 Rohingya died or went missing in 2022, according to the UN refugee agency.
Over 3,500 desperate members of the persecuted community attempted deadly sea voyages in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal in 2022 in order to escape persecution and life in crammed refugee camps, the UN Refugee Agency has revealed.
The UNHCR said in a statement that most of the boats departed from Myanmar and Bangladesh which highlighted the growing sense of desperation among Rohingya in those two countries.
Bangladesh currently hosts more than 1.2 million Rohingya refugees in its 33 congested camps. Most of these persecuted people had fled a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017.
However, condition in the camps in Cox’s bazaar remains deplorable with many refugees reporting abuse, torture, extortion and detention by Bangladeshi authorities.
In the absence of a comprehensive regional response to address these perilous maritime movements, the UNHCR warned that more people will die on the high seas, under the watch of many coastal states.
The agency urged authorities concerned to address the root causes of displacement in Myanmar, adding that until these are resolved, refugees will continue to undertake dangerous journeys.
Some 3,040 individuals, including women and children, who undertook sea journeys in some 39 boats disembarked in 2022, primarily in Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
In the last two months of 2022, four boats carrying over 450 Rohingya disembarked in Aceh, Indonesia. One boat carrying over 100 Rohingya disembarked in Sri Lanka. One boat is feared to have sunk in early December with approximately 180 individuals on board. Several boats that departed in December remained at sea as of the end of the year.
Among them are victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and separated children, and survivors of sexual- and gender-based violence.
The Bali Process, a forum for policy dialogue, information sharing and cooperation to address people smuggling, human trafficking and related transnational crime, will hold its 8th ministerial meeting in February.
Myanmar’s stateless Muslim ethnic minority Rohingya has been named as the most persecuted community in the world by the UN. However, even those that have escaped the 2017 genocide remain in dire straits as refugees while prospects for safe repatriation remain uncertain with Myanmar under the rule of a brutal military junta.