Myanmar Shipwreck Survivors Taken in by Malaysia
After being refused entry into Singapore, 40 shipwreck survivors from Myanmar were taken in by Malaysia Tuesday.
The men, believed to be Rohingya refugees, were rescued off the coast of Singapore on December 5th after their vessel, the Nago, sank after making a port of call in Myanmar's western Rakhine province. The vessel, carrying 250 passengers fleeing violence in Myanmar, was en route to Malaysia when it sank. Forty survivors of the sinking were rescued by Vitenamese flagged bulk carrier, Nosco Victory.
The bulk carrier had remained in limbo off the coast of Singapore after the country refused to allow the refugees to enter. Today, Malaysian officials agreed to accept the refugees, though it is unclear what the government plans to do with them as the men are considered illegal immigrants in both Myanmar and Bangladesh.
An official at the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency stated that the refugees were taken to an agency in Johor.
Neither Singapore or Malaysia is a party to the U.N. Convention on Refugees. The convention prohibits signatories from dismissing recognized refugees or punishing those for illegally entering -- with some exceptions.
Due to its small size and limited resources, Singapore cannot accept refugees. The country is however willing to help refugees find alternate protection.