BANGKOK (AFP) – A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya refugees trying to reach Malaysia briefly stopped on a Thai island, an official said yesterday, as fears grow about overcrowded camps for the stateless minority fleeing violence in Myanmar.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have sought shelter in southern Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a crackdown in August.
Rohingya migrants attempting the boat routes south have been a rare sighting since Thai authorities clamped down on regional trafficking networks in 2015.
The Rohingya boat arrived off Thailand’s western coast in Krabi province yesterday due to bad weather.
Images showed the passengers being interviewed on shore and then getting back into the boat before departing.
Krabi governor Kitibodee Pravitra confirmed that the people travelling on the boat were Rohingya but did not know where they had come from.
“The initial report said they were docking near Koh Lanta this morning to avoid the storm,” he said, referring to an island popular with tourists. “They want to go to Malaysia.”
He said there were about 56 women, men and children on board.