Deadly Refugee Journeys Through Bay of Bengal

UNHCR/Jiro Ose: After a seven-month ordeal at sea, a Rohingya refugee is registered at a site in Aceh province, Indonesia.

Last year was the deadliest on record for Rohingya refugees journeying through the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a new report on Thursday, highlighting that some two-thirds of those attempting the perilous voyages were women and children – risking even further abuse by smugglers.

Deadly journeys through the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea threaten 'tragic and fatal consequences.

“Left Adrift at Sea: Dangerous Journeys of Refugees Across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea” describes how over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation, prompting many States in Southeast Asia to tighten their borders.

This resulted in the highest numbers of refugees stranded at sea since the region’s “boat crisis” in 2015.

Deadly journeys are not a new phenomenon

Over the past decade, thousands of Rohingya refugees have fled Rakhine State in Myanmar by sea to settle in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

According to the report, these dangerous journeys began “in Myanmar, where the Rohingya were stripped of their citizenship and denied basic rights”.

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