Indian Coast Guard Rescues More than 80 Rohingya Refugees in Distress at Sea

Port Blair, Feb 23: The Indian Coast Guard on 22nd Feb 2021 has successfully rescued more than 80 Rohingya refugees who were in distress at sea after the engine of their boat broke down. Reports indicate that there were around 90 refugees on the boat, out of which 65 were women and around 14 children. The Rohingya refugees were on their way to Malaysia from Bangladesh when the engine had failed.

On Friday, 19th Feb 2021, Andaman Chronicle received a distress call from Mr. Mohammad Sidek who is based in Australia. Sidek informed that there were around 85 refugees who were drifting in the mid-sea. One among them was his brother, he said.

The Rohingya refugees had a Satellite Phone with them, which they used to connect with Sidek. They had even shared the GPS coordinates, which indicated that the boat was drifting in the Andaman Sea.

Based on the distress call, Andaman Chronicle immediately connected with the Indian Coast Guard, A&N Region, and informed them officially about the Rohingyas in distress.

Unconfirmed sources add that acting swiftly on the information received, the Indian Coast Guard swung into action and in a daredevil operation amidst the corona scare, successfully rescued the distressed human lives of more than 85. Meanwhile, Sidek who remained in touch with Andaman Chronicle throughout had informed that four among those on board the distressed boat had lost their lives before the operation commenced. Reports later indicate that the death toll might have risen.

It was yesterday at around 11 am that Sidek informed Andaman Chronicle that two Navy Ships had reached the spot and guarded the distressed boat laden with women, children, and a few men. Sidek also added that the Indian Coast Guard has helped out the refugees in distress. 

Meanwhile, the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency on 20th Feb 2021 had appealed for the immediate rescue of a group of Rohingya refugees in distress on the Andaman Sea.

UNHCR had received reports of an unconfirmed number of Rohingya refugees aboard a vessel in distress as of the evening of Saturday 20th February. The refugees report having departed from Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf, Bangladesh, approximately ten days ago. Many are in a highly vulnerable condition and are suffering from extreme dehydration. We understand that several refugees have already lost their lives and that fatalities have risen over the past 24 hours, the UNHCR said.

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, the UNHCR had appealed.