PHUKET: The Phuket Gazette
has confirmed reports of hundreds of Rohingya in open boats in the Andaman Sea off Phang Nga, just north of Phuket.
The news comes as thousands of ethnic Rohingya flee the violence in Myanmar.
“We have heard there are about nine boats containing hundreds of Rohingya, but they have yet to land anywhere along the coast,” a local source in Phang Nga told the Gazette
Local police were unable to confirm or deny whether any assistance, medical or otherwise, had been given to the refugees.
“We are aware of the issue, but at this point we cannot give any statement about how many of them there are, or what condition they are in, as we have yet to receive a report of them having landed on Thai soil,” an officer at Tai Muang District Police Station told the Gazette
The sighting of hundreds of Rohingya “boat people” off Phang Nga today follows 73 Rohingya being taken into custody by the Thai authorities off Koh Bon, southeast of Phuket, on January 1 (see here
Those refugees, including women and children, were repatriated to Myanmar (see here
The move to return the refugees, most likely asylum seekers, to a country were they face ongoing persecution came under fire by the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch (see here