According to Police yesterday, approximately 500 Myanmar nationals swam 500 metres to enter Malaysia illegally. The incident occurred after a 15-day long boat journey over the weekends, leaving one dead. So far, the police have found a total of 482 people. This number includes the captain of the 30-metre vessel. They are still putting up efforts to search for the remaining ones who are hiding out around the northwestern island of Langkawi in the Malacca Straits.
The group of 500 is believed to be one of the largest groups of Rohingya to reach Malaysia this year after they fled from sectarian violence at home. The immigrants claimed to have paid $300 each to an agent in troubled Rakhine for the boat ride. Based on media reports, the situation at home left majority of them ill with some requiring additional hospital care. There have been clashes between ethnic Rakhine and the Rohingya in Myanmar, leaving many people dead and homeless. Since June, the number has accumulated to more than 115,000 people.
Harrith Kam Abdullah, the Langkawi police chief, mentioned that the captain of the boat was arrested on Monday. However, he claimed that he did not have any knowledge about payments being made to an agent.
According to reports from The Star newspaper, one man was killed after he was hit by the boat’s propellers when he jumped into the sea. He was buried at a Muslim cemetery in Langkawi on Monday. As for the rest of the illegal immigrants who have been caught, they were handed over to the immigration department in order to be processed at detentions centres nationwide. The reason for them seeking refuge in Malaysia is because the country has a big Rohingya population, which is estimated to be around 23,000 by the United Nations’ refugee agency. Just last month, the Malaysia’s maritime agency stated that they “rescued” some fourty Myanmar shipwreck survivors after they had been denied entry to Singapore. These fourty of them were presumed to be Rohingya. For the full story, you can read it here.
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