269 Rohingya refugees detained in Malaysia

As the coastguards approached, 53 more refugees had jumped out and tried to swim ashore but were also detained

Malaysia detained 269 Rohingya refugees and found a dead body on a damaged boat off the resort island of Langkawi, authorities said on Monday night.

In a statement, the Malaysian National Task Force said it found 216 Rohingya refugees alive and a dead woman on a boat near Langkawi, reports Anadolu Agency.

As the coastguards approached, 53 more refugees had jumped out and tried to swim ashore but were also detained, it said.

“Further inspections found that the boat was deliberately damaged, making it unfit to be turned back,” the statement said.

The refugees were fed and placed in a temporary detention facility, while the body has been handed over to police for investigation.

Malaysia says it has turned back 22 boats trying to enter the country illegally since the start of May, reports AFP.

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Earlier in April, Malaysian authorities detained 202 Rohingya refugees on a boat found adrift off Langkawi.

Weeks later, the navy chased away a boat carrying 200 Rohingya refugees from near the resort island over fears of the novel coronavirus.

The move was condemned by former premier Mahathir Mohamad for being inhumane and against Malaysia’s policy, which has welcomed thousands of Rohingya refugees over the years.

The Southeast Asian nation has long been a favourite destination for Rohingya as it is Muslim-majority and already home to a large number of them.

Rohingya usually travel either from Myanmar or Bangladesh, where about one million live in squalid refugee camps. Most of those fled a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar and thousands have tried to reach other more affluent Asian nations even if it means risky voyages on crowded, rickety boats.