Fishing boat takes 202 Rohingya migrants to Malaysia

REFUGEE. This handout photo taken and released on April 5, 2020 shows a wooden boat carrying suspected Rohingya migrants detained in Malaysian territorial waters off the island of Langkawi. Handout photo by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency/AFP

REFUGEE. This handout photo taken and released on April 5, 2020 shows a wooden boat carrying suspected Rohingya migrants detained in Malaysian territorial waters off the island of Langkawi.

Handout photo by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency/AFP

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysia on Sunday, April 5, detained 202 suspected Rohingya Muslims who arrived illegally by boat, a top official said, raising fears that people smugglers are back in action despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

Zulinda Ramly, deputy director with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, told Agence France-Presse a large fishing boat ferried the suspected Rohingya migrants to the northern resort island of Langkawi.

Malaysia is a favored destination for the migrants from Myanmar as it is a Muslim majority nation with a sizeable Rohingya diaspora.

With few opportunities for jobs and education in Myanmar or refugee camps in Bangladesh, thousands have attempted to reach Southeast Asian nations.

Zulinda said the migrants were detained by maritime authorities for questioning and will be handed over to immigration officials.     

"Authorities are investigating complaints by the migrants that 3 individuals – a boat captain and two crew members – were operatives of a human smuggling ring," she said in a statement.

The 3 apparently escaped to sea after bringing the boat into Malaysian waters. – Rappler.com