A fishing boat carrying more than 60 Rohingyas was found beached on an island in southern Thailand in recent weeks.
Groups of Rohingyas have boarded boats over the course of the last several months as they try to reach Malaysia, part of what authorities fear could be a new wave of people being smuggling by sea.
As Malaysia signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, lawyers have argued that Malaysia should be bound by international law not to deport the Rohingyas. Malaysia’s Home Ministry has, however, been known to turn away the boats.
In 2015, an estimated 25.000 people – most of them Rohingyas escaping persecution in Myanmar – have crossed the Andaman Sea for Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Many have drowned in unsafe and overloaded boats.
The Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic group who mostly live in the northern regions of Myanmar. There were an estimated 1 million Rohingyas living in the country before a crackdown on the community began in late 2016, which was and continues to be carried out Myanmar’s armed forces.
The situation has since escalated into an all-out campaign of ethnic cleansing that has included multiple cases of mass killings of Rohingya civilians, gang rapes, and other forms of sexual violence.
According to UN agencies, more than 700,000 Rohingyas crossed into Bangladesh in 2017 to flee the army crackdown.