Sunday, February 26, 2012

Phuket News - 102 Rohingya found floating off Nai Harn - youngest just 13 years-old

The Phuket News - Sunday, 26th Feb 2012 01:51

More than 90 Rohingya refugees were captured by Chalong police this morning, after their boat ran out of fuel off Nai Harn beach.

The Phuket News - 102 Rohingya found floating off Nai Harn - youngest just 13 years-old
The Rohingya's boat, measuring just 10 metres long by five metres wide, with no apparent shelter for those onboard, was discovered wrecked just off Nai Harn beach.

It is reported that there were approximately 102 refugees on the boat, with some of them are believed to still be in hiding around Nai Harn and Promthep Cape.

One of the captured refugees, Suremula, 24, said that he and the others left their villages in Rakhine State, on the border between Burma and Bangladesh, about 12 days ago.

As with many of the predominately Muslim Rohingya, their final destination was Malaysia.

However, they ran out of food three days ago, and used up the last of their fuel early this morning off Nai Harn.

Their presence on Phuket was discovered by local villagers, who saw the refugees light a fire on the deck of the boat in order to warm themselves.

All of the refugees later left the boat to beg for food and water from people in the area.

Suremula said that life as a Rohingya in Burma is hard, as they are discriminated against as a minority, and pushed to the edge of society by the country's rulers.

"We don't receive help from the Burmese government," said Suremula through an interpreter. "Even though some of us have received basic education, we will never have the opportunity to find good jobs."

Suremula said that he earned about 1000 kyats (around B5,000) a year from whatever jobs he could find – ranging from rubber tappers to construction workers – to feed his family, which numbers more than ten.

"All of us onboard the boat decided that the only way out was to seek a better life in a new land," he said.

Among the refugees, the youngest are Dehuahusan, Aenatula and Sherfvic, all 13 years-old, who said they were only hoping for a brighter future.

"Do you know where we will be taken to?," asked Aenatula. "Will we be taken back to Burma? We don't want to go back to where we came from."

Local officials say that the Rohingya will be sent to a refugee centre in Ranong Province.

However, the Thai government can't send them back to Burma, as the Burmese government doesn't consider them to be citizens.

Their fate is unknown.

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