The Malaysian government are planning to send out a boat full of the 269 Rohingya refugees who had arrived on their coast at the beginning of the month and are currently being detained.
Following Malaysia’s policies to no longer accept refugees in light of the pandemic and Bangladesh’s rejection of Malaysian authorities’ request for them to take the refugees back, the authorities have drawn plans to push the boat full of refugees back out with food and water once the boat has been fixed, but “no decision has been made yet.”
These plans have been condemned by Rohingya refugee organisations, urging Malaysia not to send the refugees back out to sea. The director of the Arkan Project, focusing on the Rohingya crisis, has stated that this “would amount to refulgent and would be completely inhuman as passengers already died aboard this boat before it was rescued.” Co-founder of the Free Rohingya Coalition, Nay San Lwin, similarly stated that “sending them back out to sea is just throwing them into a killing field… We don’t know how many have died in the sea.”
One Rohingya woman was found dead on the boat when it arrived, and many of the refugees recall bodies being thrown overboard from those that had died of starvation and illness during their journey since embarking from Bangladesh in February.
At least three boats filled with Rohingya refugees are said to still remain somewhere at sea, with Traffickers known to be holding refugees at sea in demand for payment from families to release them.