"Search and rescue" operations needed after boat capsizes off Myanmar

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Fishermen’s haunt by day, smugglers’ den by night, this waterway on the outskirts of Sittwe is reported to be a common departure point for smugglers’ boats. UNHCR/V. Tan

A call for stronger search and rescue operations has been made by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) after a boat capsized on 3 November off the western coast of Myanmar.

The UNHCR spokesperson in Geneva, Adrian Edwards, told reporters on Tuesday that dozens of people, including women and children, were still missing and feared dead.

Eight survivors have been reported so far.

"According to the available information, some 70 people, presumed to be Rohingya from Myanmar's Rakhine State, had been on the boat when it had capsized on Sunday morning off the coast of the state capital Sittwe. Eight survivors had been reported. As with the recent boat disasters on the Mediterranean, our worry was that similar tragedies would follow unless actions were taken by concerned countries to address the causes and reduce the risks for those involved in dangerous journeys by sea.  (30″)

Most Rohingyas are stateless, suffer discrimination in Myanmar and are denied access to basic services, Edwards noted.

UNHCR is calling on the Myanmar government to address the root causes of this outflow.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’08″


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