Myanmar to repatriate 200 Bangladeshis rescued off Arakan coast

Myanmar will repatriate 200 Bangladeshi nationals rescued from the sea off the Arakan coast last week, after talks with officials from Bangladesh’s Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday, The Irrawaddy reported.

The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said 200 out of 208 people found aboard two boats have been receiving humanitarian support at relief camps in Maungdaw Township’s Ale Thankyaw village.

The report said eight of those found on board the boat are “Bengalis from Rakhine [Arakan] State” — the government’s official term for Rohingya Muslims — and the rest are Bangladeshis from Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Dhaka, who had boarded the boats seeking job opportunities in Thailand and Malaysia.

The Myanmar Navy rescued the so-called “boat people” after they were found stranded off the coast of western Myanmar on Thursday. They are hundreds of what is believed to be thousands of Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis who have taken to the sea in recent weeks, the former fleeing persecution in Arakan State and the latter largely economic migrants in search of better opportunities abroad.

Arakan State Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn told the Myanmar International Television (MITV) broadcaster that authorities would take legal action against 17 crew members and the boats’ owner.