Sri Lankan Navy Rescues Over 100 Rohingya Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) praised the Sri Lankan Navy and local fishermen on Monday for rescuing approximately 105 Rohingya refugees from a boat in distress over the weekend. UNHCR reiterated that all states in the region must act to prevent deaths at sea.

Sri Lankan Navy Rescues Over 100 Rohingya Refugees
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Facts

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) praised the Sri Lankan Navy and local fishermen on Monday for rescuing approximately 105 Rohingya refugees from a boat in distress over the weekend. UNHCR reiterated that all states in the region must act to prevent deaths at sea.
  • The Sri Lankan navy stated that the boat had a mechanical failure while carrying them from Myanmar to Indonesia.
  • The refugees had reportedly been adrift in the Andaman Sea for around two weeks with little to no food and water when Sri Lanka's Northern Naval Command received the distress call and executed a maritime rescue in challenging ocean conditions.
  • Navy spokesman Capt. Gayan Wickramasuriya stated that the group, which includes 39 women and 28 minors, has been handed over to the police. An 80-year-old man, as well as a woman and her two children, were admitted to the hospital due to minor illnesses.
  • This is reportedly the fifth boat with fleeing migrants to have left Myanmar in the past two months, with others departing from Bangladesh — including a craft carrying some 150 Rohingya refugees drifting without power for two weeks.
  • Many Muslim Rohingya risk their lives every year attempting to reach Southeast Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, on unseaworthy boats as they face deteriorating conditions in Bangladeshi refugee camps and ongoing civil unrest in Myanmar.

Sources: Unhcr, Navy News, Daily Star, Al Jazeera, BBC News, and Reuters.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Al Jazeera. The Rohingya people have desperately risked their lives crossing the ocean for years, trying to find a safe place to live after suffering human rights abuses in Myanmar. This crisis has exposed structural flaws in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as its rules made it possible for Myanmar to prevent regional powers from investigating the scale of human rights abuses and taking action to halt them.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by DW. It is hypocritical to criticize solely ASEAN when Western democracies have done nothing to help the Rohingya — even though the International Court of Justice has long called for measures to protect those persecuted. While this is likely to be a consequence of fears that Myanmar would strengthen ties with Beijing if pressed, not acting to preserve the universal validity of human rights can only damage the West's reputation — the plight of the Rohingya at sea are the world's responsibility.