Over a 1,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingyas died at sea in 18 months


Refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh are seen in their boat before their rescue by Aceh fisherman in Julok, East Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, 20 May 2015. Photo: EPA

Refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh are seen in their boat before their rescue by Aceh fisherman in Julok, East Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, 20 May 2015. Photo: EPA

At least 70 people are estimated to have died of starvation, dehydration, disease and abuse by crews at sea on ships abandoned in May this year, said the UN Refugee Agency according to a report by the Daily Star on 28 August.

With the new figure, the UNHCR estimates that over 1,100 people (Bangladeshis and/or Rohingyas of Myanmar) died between January 2014 and June 2015.

Additionally, there were reports of drowning while disembarking, and many remained missing, the UNHCR said in a quarterly report of April and June.

The deaths in May occurred when Thai authorities began a crackdown on illegal migration following the discovery of mass graves early May and the regional countries -- Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand -- had initially refused to accept the boatpeople drifting at sea.

In some cases, the vessels with refugees or migrants, abandoned by the human traffickers, were pushed furtherback to sea.

Later, these countries rescued some 4,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis.

However, some 1,000 people, who were thought to be in the sea in May, remain unaccounted for. They may have unofficially disembarked without the knowledge of the authorities, the UNHCR says.

The UNHCR says between January 2014 and June 2015 approximately 94,000 refugees and migrants departed from Bangladesh and/or Myanmar.

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