Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Saturday urged Bangladesh to take in hundreds of Rohingyas who are stranded in the Bay of Bengal.
In a statement, HRW asked the government to allow “hundreds of Rohingya refugees stranded in two trawlers” in the Bay to come ashore and receive necessary food, water, and health care.
On April 23, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said Bangladesh would refuse entry to more Rohingyas because the country is always asked to take care of the responsibility of other countries, the statement said.
Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingyas who fled mass atrocities in Myanmar.
Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said, “Bangladesh has shouldered a heavy burden as the result of the Myanmar military’s atrocity crimes, but this is no excuse to push boatloads of refugees out to sea to die.”
Bangladesh should continue to help those at grave risk and preserve the international goodwill it has gained in recent years for helping the Rohingya, he added.
On April 15, Bangladesh coast guard officials rescued one boat of Rohingyas which had reportedly been turned away by Malaysia nearly two months earlier. About 390 starving Rohingya, most under 20 years old, were brought ashore.
On April 23, UNHCR raised serious concerns about the pushbacks, urging “greater coordination and responsibility-sharing by states to address the maritime movements of refugees and asylum-seekers in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea”.
In February, the Task Force on Planning and Preparedness of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime made a commitment to saving lives when responding to “irregular maritime migration.” Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh are all members.
Bangladesh’s resources are under great strain as the country grapples with the spread of Covid-19. Donors should help Bangladesh to set up quarantine centres and provide medical assistance and infrastructure support to help fight the spread of Covid-19 in the camps and neighbouring communities, HRW said.