Fears mount over fate of Rohingya on boat (The Straits Times)

PAK BARA (Thailand) – Fears grew for the welfare of hundreds of Rohingya migrants on a boat bounced between waters off Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia that has not been heard from in more than 60 hours.

Around 300 people were pleading for help last Thursday on the drifting trawler, which has become emblematic of South-east Asia’s growing migrant crisis and its reluctance to take them in.

The Thai navy said it had repaired the engine and provided the visibly thin passengers with food, water and medicine on both Thursday and Saturday, before “escorting” the vessel into international waters.

The Thai authorities insisted the passengers wanted to travel southwards to Malaysia, and said they have had no news of the vessel since around 9pm last Saturday. Indonesian and Malaysian officials have declined to comment on the status of the vessel.

Ms Chris Lewa of The Arakan Project, a Rohingya rights group that monitors boat crossings, said her team’s last phone contact with the ship was on last Saturday evening. Since then, the phones have gone unanswered.

“They had told us the men were taking all the food and the women could not get the food. They were getting only little bits left over. That was the last we heard from them,” she said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE