European Union has urged all armed forces in Myanmar to implement an unconditional cease-fire and return to the peace process.
“Several hundreds of Rohingya people, including women and children, have been drifting for weeks at sea in appalling conditions, being pushed away from the shores in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea,” EU High Representative Josep Borrell said in a written statement.
He said the bloc urges governments in the region to carry out a search and rescue operation for stranded Rohingya.
“Bangladesh granted safe landing and assistance to 400 Rohingya on one of the boats on 16 April 2020, showing continued generosity and humanity,” Borrell said, adding that it expects other countries to follow suit.
Bangladesh coast guard units rescued a boat carrying 390 Rohingya who were reportedly turned back from Malaysia nearly two months ago. As many as 100 perished at sea.
In the face of deadly clashes in Myanmar and the uncertainty of peaceful repatriation, the Rohingya are leaving crammed camps in Bangladesh to flee to countries like Malaysia through risky sea routes.
“The EU urges all armed forces in Myanmar to urgently implement an unconditional ceasefire and recommit to an all-inclusive peace process,” he said. “This would help addressing the root causes of the plight of the Rohingya.”
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report titled Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.
As many as 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes burned down while 113,000 others vandalized, it added.