More Rohingya refugees found adrift off Thailand’s coast

PHUKET: Another group of desperate Rohingya refugees found shelter along the Khura Buri coast north of Phuket yesterday after 25 days at sea, making them the third group to land along Thailand’s Andaman coast this month.

The 96 refugees shared the same harrowing story as the 179 who came ashore on January 23: days at sea surviving on scant rations of water and uncooked rice (story here).

The group composed 62 men, six women, 14 boys and 14 girls, Khura Buri District Chief Manit Pianthong said.

“They departed the Rakhine State in Myanmar on January 1… They hoped to find work in Thailand or Malaysia,” Mr Manit explained.

“They were all exhausted and hungry when we found them. Some ate the uncooked rice that they had brought with them in front of officers and the media; others cried out as they finally reached the shore,” he said.

Of the 96 most recent arrivals,12 of them were sick and needed medical treatment.

Refugees were given necessary medical treatment and physical check-ups, as well as food and water. The group was then transferred to the Khura Buri Community Hall, which is now functioning as a temporary shelter until they can be deported, Mr Manit said.

There are now 340 refugees being held at the Phang Nga detention centers, as many of the refugees have already been transferred to other provinces to deal with the sudden influx of potential asylum seekers (story here). Of the 340 Rohingya, 48 are being held at the Phang Nga shelter for women and children; 180 are at the Phang Nga Immigration detention center; and 112 are in the Khura Buri Police Station.

“The refugees need three meals a day – we simply don’t have the funds to support them. So there are donation centers at the local level that are gathering donations and raising funds,” Pheu Thai Government Spokesman Prompong Nopparit said during his visit to the Khura Buri Community Hall yesterday.

On Monday, MP Prompong plans to raise the issue of funding the care for the Rohingya with the Pheu Thai Party in hopes of solving anticipated budget issues.

“If they stay here for several months, there will be monetary issues. I believe for now the government and private sector can continue to do their best to provide them with food and look after their health,” he said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

Phuket News
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