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A Briefing on the Situation of Rohingya Refugees from Myanmar in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia

In May 2015, human trafficking syndicates abandoned boats of thousands of Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi nationals coming from Myanmar’s Rakhine State and Bangladesh, leaving them adrift in the Andaman Sea. Instead of initiating search and rescue efforts, key countries in the region reinforced their borders and some intercepted and towed stranded boats farther out to sea. Following international outcry, some member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed to allow disembarkation and provide temporary shelter to survivors. The failure of ASEAN to immediately prioritize the protection of survivors led to an unknown loss of life at sea.

Almost ten months later, the Burmese Rohingya Organization UK (BROUK) and Fortify Rights traveled to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia from February 15 to March 9 to assess the situation of Rohingya refugees in each country. Representatives from the organizations met with government officials, United Nations officials, and nongovernmental organizations; visited immigration detention facilities, government-operated shelters, and refugee camps; and conducted interviews with Rohingya refugees and survivors of human trafficking.

This briefing is based on those meetings and interviews.

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