Racha Rohingya ‘helped on’ by Thai Navy
Phuket Gazette – 29 Jan
PHUKET: The group of Rohingya refugees discovered off Koh Racha Noi today – numbering 205 in total – were given food and water before being “helped on” in their southbound journey.
On hearing the news of the refugees’ arrival, Rawai Municipality quickly dispatched a speedboat with basic provisions. The boat departed Chalong Pier about midday, and on arriving at Koh Racha Noi officers on board discovered that a Royal Thai Navy vessel was already there.
About 10 Thai Navy officers checked the refugees and handed out food and water before “allowing” the refugees to continue their journey toward Malaysia, the Phuket Gazette was told.
Throughout the day the Gazette received conflicting reports about the refugees: some stating that there were only men and boys on the boat; others claiming women and children were also on board, as has been the trend with recent Rohingya arrivals in Thailand.
One of the reports received by the Gazette identified Sarit Chandee, a villager on Koh Racha Yai, saying that the Rohingya were first spotted at sea by local fisherman last night.
Mr Sarit described the boat as having two levels, being only several meters wide and 30m long.
The Gazette has yet to learn whether the hundreds of Rohingya reported earlier today at Koh Phra Thong, on the Phang Nga coast north of Phuket, were also “helped on” – or if they were taken into custody by Thai officials, like the hundreds of Rohingya who have arrived by boat over the past few weeks.
The number of Rohingya coming ashore in Phang Nga has forced officials to relocate hundreds of them to immigration centers in other provinces across Southern Thailand (story here).
State news agency MCOT reported yesterday that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought clarification from a variety of agencies on the plight and options of well over 1,000 Rohingya migrants currently in Thai custody (story here).