Call to save Rohingya refugees adrift at sea without water, food

A group of politicians in Southeast Asia has urged regional governments to immediately launch a search and rescue operation for a boat reported to be carrying hundreds of Rohingya refugees that has been adrift in waters off the coasts of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India for weeks.

The appeal from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) on Tuesday came as media outlets in India said the boat – which could be carrying hundreds of refugees including women and children – had drifted from the Malacca Strait and into Indian waters off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

The United Nations refugee agency highlighted the plight of the Rohingya refugees on the boat earlier in December when it called for an urgent search and rescue operation. At the time, the UN agency said the “non-seaworthy” boat could be carrying up to 200 people, though Indian media reports put the figure at about 160.

In their statement on Tuesday, the group of Southeast Asian legislators called on member states of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other countries in the region to fulfil their humanitarian obligations and rescue those on board the boat.

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