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The Financial Express

Bangladesh encourages other countries to take Rohingyas

| Updated: February 22, 2021 21:05:04


Bangladesh encourages other countries to take Rohingyas

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Monday urged the other countries and human rights bodies to come forward to share the burden of Rohingyas, saying that Bangladesh has done enough.

He said an estimate shows around 84,000 people live in per square kilometre at Kutupalong Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar.

“Do you see it anywhere in the world? Let other countries take (Rohingyas). We can’t take more,” he told reporters at his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Earlier, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, appealed for the immediate rescue of a group of Rohingya refugees in distress on the Andaman Sea.

UNHCR received reports of an unconfirmed number of Rohingya refugees aboard a vessel in distress as of Saturday.

The refugees left Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf, Bangladesh, approximately 10 days ago, said Indrika Ratwatte, Director of the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific on Monday.

Many are in a highly vulnerable condition and apparently suffering from extreme dehydration.  "We understand that a number of refugees have already lost their lives, and that fatalities have risen over the past 24 hours," said Ratwatte.

Ratwatte said refugees have told them that the vessel ran out of food and water several days ago, and that many of the passengers are ill.

"The vessel has reportedly been adrift since its engine broke down more than a week ago. We haven’t been able to confirm the number of refugees or their precise location at this time."

In the absence of precise information as to the refugees’ location, Ratwatte said they have alerted the authorities of the relevant maritime states of these reports and appealed for their swift assistance, should the vessel be found in their area of responsibility for search and rescue. "Immediate action is needed to save lives and prevent further tragedy."

As always, saving lives must be the priority. In line with international obligations under the law of the sea and longstanding maritime traditions, the duty to rescue persons in distress at sea should be upheld, irrespective of nationality or legal status.

"We appeal to all governments to deploy their search and rescue capacities and promptly disembark those in distress."

UNHCR said it stands ready to support governments across the region in providing any necessary humanitarian assistance and quarantine measures in the coming days for those disembarked, in line with public health protocols.

"The fact that refugees and migrants continue to undertake fatal journeys accentuates the need for immediate and collective regional response to search, rescue and disembarkation," Ratwatte said.

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