World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Over 20,000 people risked their lives during sea crossings

Over 20,000 people risked their lives in Indian Ocean sea crossings this year – UN report

22 August 2014

Over 20,000 people risked their lives in sea crossings in the Indian Ocean in the first half of this year, many of them Rohingya who fled Myanmar, according to a new report released today by the United Nations refugee agency.

The report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on irregular maritime movements in South-east Asia also notes that several hundred people were intercepted on boats heading to Australia.

Produced by a newly-established Maritime Movements Monitoring Unit at UNHCR’s Regional Office in Bangkok, the report focuses on departures from the Bay of Bengal and elsewhere passing through South-east Asia, and highlights the abuses people are facing on their journeys, and developments related to Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders policy.
It shows that more than 7,000 asylum-seekers and refugees who have travelled by sea are at present held in detention facilities in the region, including over 5,000 in Australia or its offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

“Because of its clandestine nature, the full extent of people smuggling remains hard to determine,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva.

“But in-depth interviews with survivors have offered insights into what goes on during the long and arduous journey from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and beyond.”

The report estimates that 53,000 people departed irregularly by sea from the Bay of Bengal in the 12 months ending June 2014 – a 61 per cent increase over the previous 12 months. In the two years following the June 2012 outbreak of inter-communal violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, some 87,000 people – mostly Rohingya but also Bangladeshis – embarked on the dangerous journey in search of safety and stability.

The main sailing season has continued to be between October and the first quarter of the year when seas are calmer. Typically, passengers were ferried on small boats to larger fishing or cargo boats that could each hold up to 700 people. Most were men, but there were also rising numbers of women and children.

According to the research, most passengers interviewed said they paid between $50 and $300 to board the boats and were at sea for an average of one to two weeks. Some waited for up to two months for their boat to take on more passengers. Many said they fell sick along the way. There are also unconfirmed reports of deaths due to illness, heat, a lack of food and water and severe beatings.

UNHCR cited “a very challenging protection environment” for refugees in the region. States, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, are not signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and lack formal legal frameworks for dealing with refugees.

“Without a legal status they are often at risk of arrest, detention, and deportation under immigration laws,” said Mr. Edwards. “It also makes legal employment impossible and drives many people, including women and children, into exploitative and vulnerable situations.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Cyclone Pam Drives Up Contraceptive Demand In Vanuatu

UNFPA Pacific, Port Vila, Vanuatu (March 31, 2015) - Katherine Silas grimaces but one is not entirely sure if it is in response to pain or merely the sight of the needle being used to implant the long-term contraceptive, jadelle, a week after Cyclone ... More>>

Palestine: Border Police Extremely Close When They Shot The US Activist

New testimony at final hearing in Tristan Anderson's trial indicates Border Police were extremely close when they shot the US activist in the head More>>

Palestine: Ni’lin Demonstrators Met With Violence

International Solidarity Movement On the 20th of March, during Ni’lin’s weekly Friday demonstration, Israeli occupation forces attacked protestors with about 20 rounds of tear gas canisters shot with the ‘venom’ tear gas launcher mounted on a military jeep ... More>>

ALSO:

UN Envoy Says Yemen On 'Rapid Downward Spiral'

Yemen stands on the brink of civil war amid deepening political tensions and an uptick in sectarian violence, United Nations Special Adviser Jamal Benomar warned today as he explained that only through dialogue could the country achieve a peaceful political transition. More>>


Continued International Support As Vanuatu Recovers

Damage seen on Saturday 14 March 2015 in Port Vila, capital of Vanuatu, after Cyclone Pam moved through the Archipelago. Photo: UNICEF Pacific More>>

UNICEF Rushes Emergency Supplies For Cyclone-Affected Tuvalu

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) is dispatching emergency life-saving supplies to communities in Tuvalu as part of its efforts to assist communities in the Pacific region that were affected by Tropical Cyclone Pam, with nutrition and hygiene kits arriving today. More>>

Guinea Reports Highest Weekly Ebola Case Total This Year

Guinea reports highest weekly Ebola case total so far this year, new UN data shows More>>


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news