BANGKOK: More than 200 Muslim Rohingya boat people have landed in southern Thailand, authorities said yesterday, a possible sign that vessels from Myanmar are risking the journey before the end of the monsoon season.
The group, believed to be fleeing sectarian violence in unrest-torn Rakhine State, western Myanmar, landed on a remote beach during a storm in southern Satun province on Wednesday, an official said.
“We gave them water, food and fixed their boat,” the official from the local Internal Security Operation Command, who did not want to be named, said, adding the group then returned to the boat and set sail.
“We want them to go away out of the country... They do not want to stay here and authorities here do not want to take them”, he said, adding the Rohingya normally want to head on to neighbouring Muslim countries.
While he did not mention any countries by name, the Rohingya generally prefer to aim for Malaysia or Indonesia.
Thousands of Muslim Rohingya boat people, including women and children, have fled the former junta-ruled country since Buddhist-Muslim clashes a year ago in Rakhine. But most make the perilous journey after the monsoon has waned in October when high seas calm.
“They are all men aged between 15 and 45 years... they looked skinny, they had no energy — some could not even walk,” Somnuk Khunsuek said, adding they wanted to reach Malaysia.