More than 100 Rohingya refugees rescued in Sri Lankan waters

104 Rohingya were rescued by the Sri Lankan navy after their boat ran aground off the Indian Ocean island’s northern coast, an official said on Monday, as members of the Muslim minority continue to flee violence in Myanmar and languish in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Many Rohingya risk their lives every year by trying to reach Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia on rickety ships, and their numbers have increased after the deterioration of conditions in the camps and the military coup in Myanmar last year.

Sri Lankan navy spokesman Capt. Gyan Wickramasuriya said a boat was spotted by local fishermen and alerted the navy, which launched a search and rescue operation and eventually towed it to a northern port on Sunday night.

“They will be handed over to the police,” the spokesman added. “This is not a criminal act, so we will see what needs to be done.”

He said the group included women and minors, and an 80-year-old man and a mother and her two children were taken to hospital for treatment of a minor illness.

The source and intended destination of the Rohingya group was not clear.

Following a military crackdown that witnesses said included mass killings and rape, more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar in 2017, many heading to neighboring Bangladesh.

Human rights organizations and the media documented the killing of civilians and the burning of villages.

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