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UNHCR saddened by reports of refugees drowning in the Bay of Bengal

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UNHCR saddened by reports of refugees drowning in the Bay of Bengal

28 September 2017
Bangladesh. Rohingya families flee Myanmar by land and sea
Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Myanmar arrive on fishing boats in the Teknaf area of south-east Bangladesh on 6 September 2017.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is saddened to have learned of a tragedy in the Bay of Bengal in which 14 Rohingya refugees are reported to have drowned when their boat capsized on Thursday trying to reach safety in Bangladesh.

Among the dead were five girls, four boys and five women from northern Rakhine State. Among the 27 survivors are eight women and seven children; 12 people were taken to local hospitals.

“It is saddening that refugees fleeing violence drowned in sight of the land and safety they were desperately searching for,” said UNHCR’s Director for the Asia and Pacific region, Indrika Ratwatte. “The number of women and children involved highlights how the most vulnerable are often the most affected in these tragedies.” he added.

UNHCR staff returning from refugee camps in the south-east of Bangladesh late Thursday afternoon came upon local people as they rescued 27 Rohingya refugees as the boat on which they fled from Myanmar had capsized close to the shore. The bodies of 14 people were also recovered on Inani Beach, a sharp coral stone beach south of Cox’s Bazar.

Survivors could not say how many people in total had been on the boat, which survivors said had set sail from Myanmar on Wednesday night. The Bay of Bengal was whipped by high waves and heavy winds on Thursday afternoon and the boat was blown off course. According to our staff on the spot the boat was very close to shore – at a place where refugees do not normally land – when it capsized.

UNHCR mobilized ambulances, police and medical authorities to respond.

There are unconfirmed reports that a second boat is missing.

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