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‘Have Not Eaten in 10 Days’: Stranded Rohingya Refugee Boat Now in Indian Waters

As per the new GPS coordinates, the boat is now in Indian waters, approximately 150 kms from Nicobar’s Campbell Bay.

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“We are dying here. The sea current has swept us out of the Malacca Strait and into the Bay of Bengal,” said the captain of a stranded boat, carrying over 160 Rohingya refugees, in a 90-second phone call accessed by The Quint.

The call took place on 18 December between Rezuwan Khan, a Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, whose sister is on the boat with her five-year-old daughter, and the captain of the boat.

As per the new GPS coordinates shared with The Quint, the boat is now in Indian waters, approximately 150 km from Andaman and Nicobar’s Campbell Bay.

As per the new GPS coordinates, the boat is now in Indian waters, approximately 150 kms from Nicobar’s Campbell Bay.

As per the new GPS coordinates shared with The Quint, the boat is now in Indian waters, approximately 150 kms from Nicobar’s Campbell Bay.

(Photo: Screenshot from Google Maps)

The boat left from Bangladesh for Malaysia on 25 November, and suffered an engine failure on 1 December. It got stranded in the Andaman Sea, then got swept up by the current from the middle of the Andaman Sea to the Strait of Malacca, and is now in Indian waters, as per the latest coordinates shared by Rezuwan.

With extreme food and water shortages, those on board, and other human rights activists and organisations, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have raised alarm in an effort to rescue the stranded refugees. 

Three such boats had left from Bangladesh in late November.

As per a statement, released on 16 December by Myanmar's exiled National Unity Government, one vessel carrying Rohingya refugees had been "intercepted by a Vietnamese off-shore company" and handed over to Myanmar Navy; another vessel experienced "engine failure"; and the whereabouts of the third vessel were "unknown."

The third vessel was rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday, with over 100 refugees safely brought to shore. Four of the refugees with minor ailments and injuries were admitted in a local hospital.

The boat with the engine failure now awaits help from Indian authorities.

Refugees in Indonesia Tried To Help But...

Rezuwan, as per the phone call, asks the captain, “Why has your mobile been switched off?”

The captain replies, “We are dying here. The current has swept us out of the Malacca Strait.”

Rezuwan requests the captain not to “switch off the mobile because it has been three days and boats are looking for you.”

He told The Quint, "Two small boats were managed to be sent by us from Indonesia but unfortunately, they couldn't find them in the Strait of Malacca. The boat is now in Indian waters and we need the Indian Navy to help rescue it."

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In the call, the captain further informs Rezuwan, “We have not eaten anything for eight to 10 days and we are starving. Three people have died now.”

Over the next few seconds, GPS coordinates of the boats were shared over the call.

Rezuwan also shared the coordinates on Twitter, stating:

"Dear Indian People, you have been the greatest hope for us for so long. I hope this time you would show your humanity to us by saving their life."

The refugees had boarded the "non-seaworthy vessel" on 25 November from a coast near Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. The boat has been adrift ever since its propeller shut down.

Speaking about the poor living conditions in the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh, Rezuwan had earlier told The Quint, “We know the journey is filled with risks but here (in Bangladesh), we have no right to education or work. This is why people are taking such huge risks and fleeing… Hoping some country will give us refuge."

A million Rohingya refugees have been living in squalor since 2017 — the year when the ethnic group faced genocide at the hands of the Myanmar government. Facing persecution, the fleeing refugees do not want to return to Myanmar at any cost.

Read The Quint's interviews with the family members of those on board here.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Refugees   Coast Guard   Rohingya 

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