About 180 Rohingya Muslims fleeing grim conditions in Bangladesh camps are presumed to have drowned at sea in recent weeks, possibly after their rickety boat broke apart, in what could make 2022 among the deadliest years for the community.
Rights groups have recorded a major rise in the number of Rohingya leaving the camps in Bangladesh from about 500 in 2021 to some 2,400 this year. Nearly 1 million Rohingya from Myanmar live in crowded facilities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
At least five boats carrying Rohingya have sailed from Bangladesh since around the end of last month, according to Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, an NGO that provides support to Rohingya refugees. Two boats carrying Rohingya also reached Indonesia early in November. Following are details of the boats:
* At least 154 Rohingya were rescued by a Vietnamese oil ship from a sinking boat off the Myanmar coast on Dec. 7 and turned over to Myanmar's navy. The Rohingya are a minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and seen by Myanmar authorities as illegal immigrants from South Asia.
* The Sri Lankan navy on Dec. 18 rescued more than 100 Rohingya adrift off the Indian Ocean island's northern coast.
* A boat carrying 180 Rohingya sank off the Sri Lankan coast during the first week of December, according to Lewa, who cited the captain of the boat rescued in Sri Lanka on Dec. 18, as the two boats were sailing near each other. All people on this boat are presumed to have drowned.
* At least 57 Rohingya were rescued in Aceh province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Dec. 25 after being adrift for nearly a month.
* A boat carrying 185 Rohingya, adrift at sea since Dec. 1, washed ashore in Aceh on Monday, according to Lewa. Local disaster agency officials said the vessel landed with 174 Rohingya aboard, with some survivors saying more than 20 had died on the way.
* On Nov. 15-16, two boats carrying a total of 230 Rohingya, including women and children, reached the coast of Aceh.
(Writing by Shivam Patel in New DelhiEditing by Mark Heinrich)