Boatloads of migrants fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh who were turned away by authorities in three countries are adrift in the Andaman Sea near Thailand.
Here’s the video, captured by The New York Times:
Thailand is the latest country to turn them away — after Malaysia and Indonesia did the same this week. An estimated 6,000 to 20,000 migrants are at sea in the region.
Those in the video say they have been aboard their vessels for three months. It’s part of a regional effort to crack down on human trafficking. The traffickers are believed to have abandoned the vessels.
Some of the migrants are Rohingya, who are fleeing persecution in Myanmar. Other migrants are escaping poverty in Bangladesh.
The U.N. is criticizing Indonesia and Malaysia’s decision to turn back the boats.
“The first priority is to save lives. Instead of competing to avoid responsibility, it is key for states to share the responsibility to disembark these people immediately,” said Volker Türk, assistant high commissioner for protection at the U.N. High Commission For Refugees.
But Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar pushed back against that assertion.
“I don’t see why we are under pressure,” Wan said, according to Reuters. “We are doing what we think we should do. We have to consider what our people want to see us doing. They don’t want to see immigrants come into our country.”