Phuket: Rohingya refugees resupply at Rawai
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PHUKET: Seventy-four Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar brought their rickety boat close to Rawai last night (December 31), looking for supplies to allow them to continue their journey to their intended destination, Malaysia.P
Tuesday 1 January 2013, 02:39PM
Police and other officials tie up alongside the Rohingya boat close to Koh Bon to resupply them – and to ensure they do not land in Thailand.Chalong Police Station Superintendent Pol Maj Kitipas Dejintrasorn, Mayor of Rawai Aroon Sorot and other officials hurried out to meet the boat after being informed that the refugees were approaching the shore at midnight last night.
Maj Kitipas said, “They speak very little Thai, but we have established that their intended destination is Malaysia.”
Officials also established that they had left western Myanmar 13 days before and had approached Phuket only in search of water, food and fuel.
Most of the Rohingya are men, but there were 14 women and 10 children aboard the open boat.
Looking exhausted, hungry and thirsty, they immediately gulped down water and food offered to them. They requested supplies of water, 100 litres of fuel and a sack of rice to continue their journey.
Rawai Municipality cooperated with Chalong police, the Royal Thai Navy, the health department and others to deliver medicines along with the requested supplies to the refugees.
Mayor Aroon said, “Now we have given them the supplies they asked for. Next we will send them on their way to the third country; they are not allowed to land on Phuket. They are now the responsibility of the Navy.”
Thousands of Rohingya, regarded by the Myanmar government as interlopers from Bangladesh, but regarded by Bangladesh as Burmese, have fled the country in the past few years in an attempt to find a home where they will not be targets of persecution.
Twice in the past year western Myanmar has been convulsed with violence against the Rohingya by Burmese. Some 200 people died in violence last year alone, and more than 100,000 were displaced, many fleeing by sea.
Most Rohingya are Muslim, and see Malaysia as a sympathetic Muslim state that will receive them. Malaysia has done so, but offers them little help once they have arrived. However, they are allowed to live in peace.