71 People Rescued Off Sri Lanka

71 People Rescued Off Sri Lanka  

By SAW YAN NAING 

Seventy-one people-50 Burmese and 21 Bangladeshi nationals-were rescued on Monday morning in the Indian Ocean by the Sri Lankan navy.

The people were rescued after being adrift for 13 days some 150 nautical miles off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka due to boat engine failure, according to a report on the Sri Lankan naval Web site.

Seventeen Burmese migrants and three Bangladeshis died onboard following the lack of food and water. The illegal immigrants were planning to travel to Malaysia and Thailand to seek jobs.

The 91 people boarded the vessel from Burma and Bangladesh on February 9. The doomed craft is now being dragged to Trincomalee Harbour in Sri Lanka by the Sri Lankan navy while the survivors have been fed and treated medically.

Two deep sea surveillance ships were also asked to investigate the failed vessel by Sri Lanka navy’s Eastern Naval Command.

Fishermen had spotted the drifting boat off the shores of Mulaithuvu and reported the incident to Sri Lankan naval officials. 

In April 2007, two boats carrying more than 150 Rohingya men and boys from Burma, who said they left their homes because of political persecution by Burmese authorities, were detained off Phang Nga Province in southern Thailand by the country’s marine police.

According to a United States State Department report, “Trafficking in Persons,” released o¬n June 13, 2007, the Burmese military government has not done enough to stop the flow of human trafficking, particularly of women and children.

The report said an increasing number of ethnic Burmese girls and women have been leaving Burma in hope of finding work. Children have been trafficked to neighboring countries for sexual exploitation, forced labor and street begging, according to the report.

In December 2007, border patrol police in Tak found 41 Burmese men and women in the tank of an oil transport trailer without fresh air as they were being transported from Mae Sot to Bangkok.

Last year, about 740,000 migrant workers from Burma registered with the Department of Employment in Thailand. Many more Burmese migrants are working illegally. An estimated 1 million Burmese migrants are working in Thailand. 

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