KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia intercepted a boat carrying 56 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar off its northern island of Langkawi on Tuesday and will allow them to enter on humanitarian grounds, with rights groups expecting further such perilous journeys by sea.
The boat had stopped at an island in southern Thailand on Saturday after a storm, with officials there saying the refugees were heading to Malaysia. It had set sail from central Rakhine state in Myanmar, the U.N. refugee agency said.
Maritime - Enforcement - Agency - Statement - Boat
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said in a statement that the boat was carrying 19 men, 17 women and 20 children. It had since been escorted to the peninsula and its occupants handed over to immigration authorities for processing.
Malaysia’s standard policy has been to turn away refugee boats attempting to make landfall, unless weather conditions are bad, though thousands have managed to enter the country over the years.
Passengers - Children - Women - Navy - Admiral
“Generally all 56 passengers, mostly children and women, are safe but tired and hungry,” Malaysian navy chief Admiral Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin told Reuters.
“We have provided them with water, food and other humanitarian assistance.”
According to UN...
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