United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Monday expressed gratitude to Indian authorities at Andaman and Nicobar Islands for taking care of 142 Rohingya refugees, whose boat was intercepted by coastal security agencies near Shaheed Dweep a day ago.
“UNHCR thanks the Indian Coast Guard and the authorities for saving desperate human lives. This noble act of humanity brings relief to those in distress,” Babar Baloch, spokesperson for Asia and the Pacific, told PTI news agency in a text message.
The vessel departed from Bangladesh approximately 14-15 days ago, heading towards Indonesia, with 47 women and 59 minors on board.
On Sunday morning, the Port Blair police control room received a call from the local intelligence about suspicious boat movement near Shaheed Dweep (previously known as Neil Island), and multiple coastal security agencies (including the navy, coast guard and marine police) swung into action and located it, officials had said.
“There are reports of deaths (referring to dangerous sea routes taken by the Rohingyas in the last couple of years). We express our sadness and regret the lives lost during this ordeal. UNHCR stands ready to extend support as needed to those disembarked,” Baloch said.
Due to a technical issue rendering the boat unsuitable for continued travel, the marine police towed it to Shaheed Dweep on Sunday, as reported by the police. The individuals on board were subsequently transported to Port Blair and accommodated in temporary shelter by the local administration.