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Rohingya boat stranded in Myanmar

Boat was floundering in rough seas when it drifted ashore in Rakhine State

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Rohingya boat stranded in Myanmar

Myanmar navy personnel escort Rohingya Muslims back to their camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, on Nov. 30, 2018, after they were detained at sea while trying to reach Malaysia. (AFP photo)

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Myanmar authorities have found 63 Rohingya Muslims who were stranded near a beach in Rakhine State after their boat ran out of fuel.

The vessel was carrying 29 men, 34 women and four crew members when it drifted to the shore while floundering in heavy seas on July 7.

Local authorities apprehended all those who were on board and laid charges against the crew members.

One of the passengers, Hamid Tusaung from Bumay village in state capital Sittwe, was returning to Malaysia where he had previously been working.

A Malaysian human trafficker organized the trip, according to a July 10 report in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

The article said the passengers were either from refugee camps in Bangladesh or from internally displaced persons' camps in Sittwe.

The boat left Myanmar's southern region on June 25. The passengers reportedly paid a people-smuggling outfit about US$6,500 each for the journey to Malaysia.

Kyaw Hla Aung, a Rohingya Muslim lawyer from the Thetkaepyin internally displaced persons’ camp near Sittwe, said there are networks of local smugglers who persuade people from the camps to seek work in Malaysia.

"Hatred and discrimination against Muslims is deep-rooted in the country, which is the main barrier to development and national reconciliation,” Kyaw Hla Aung told ucanews.com.

In recent years, thousands of Rohingya have undertaken perilous boat journeys in pursuit of better opportunities in Malaysia and Thailand.

On June 11, Thai authorities discovered 65 Rohingya Muslims on an island in southern Thailand after their boat also ran out of fuel.

In November 2018, at least four boats, each carrying scores of men, women and children that departed from Rakhine State for Malaysia, were intercepted by Myanmar’s navy.

A crackdown on human trafficking in Thailand in 2015 triggered a humanitarian crisis when smugglers abandoned their human cargoes on land or at sea.

More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh to escape a Myanmar military crackdown in Rakhine that began in August 2017.

A United Nations fact-finding mission in mid-September this year found that the Myanmar military's persecution of the Rohingya in Rakhine amounted to genocide.  

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