Up to 100 killed as migrants fight for food in doomed boat
Migrants stranded at sea for four months off Indonesia resorted to stabbing, hanging each other and throwing passengers overboard in a desperate struggle for the last remaining food, according to those who made it to land.
Survivors from a boat that landed in Indonesia late last week have given horrific accounts of clashes over the dwindling supplies. They said that up to 100 people died during the ethnic-based violence among the migrants, all from Burma and Bangladesh.
Mahmud Rafiq (21), a Rohingya man from Burma, blamed the Bengalis, saying they refused to give the remaining food to women and children and "started hitting us. They pushed many of us overboard. They beat us and attacked us with knives".
Mohammad Abdur Rahim (23), a Bengali, blamed the Rohingyas. "Burma people do not give us any food, any water, they are torturing [us] every day," he said.
The violence erupted on a boat carrying about 700 people which was reportedly turned away by the Indonesian navy and escorted to Malaysian waters, where it was rejected by the Malaysian navy. It ended in Indonesian waters, where the passengers were rescued by fishermen.
A police chief said: "They were killing each other, throwing people overboard". Iqbal Foriza, a doctor treating the refugees, added: "They were on the sea for four months, no food, no clean water, no bedding, that made them dehydrated and caused trauma."
The horrific accounts came as countries in the region turned away migrants in what has been described as a "human ping pong".
The UN has urged Southeast Asian nations to accept the thousands of migrants from Burma and Bangladesh stranded on boats. Many are oppressed Rohingya Muslims from Burma, described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted peoples.
Malaysia, the favoured destination for many, has urged Burma and Bangladesh to halt the flow but regional efforts to solve the crisis have so far been unsuccessful, with Burma saying it will not attend a regional summit in Thailand on May 29 "if 'Rohingya' is mentioned on the invitation". (© Daily Telegraph, London)