India’s coast guard found the 81 survivors and eight dead crammed onto a crippled fishing boat and were trying to arrange for Bangladesh to take them, Indian officials said on Friday.

But Momen told Reuters late on Friday that Bangladesh expects India, the closest country, or Myanmar, the Rohingyas’ country of origin, to accept them.

“They are not Bangladesh nationals and in fact, they are Myanmar nationals. They were found 1 700 km (1 100 miles) away from the Bangladesh maritime territory and therefore, we have no obligation to take them,” said Momen, who is in the United States.

“They were located 147 km (91 miles) away from Indian territory, 324 km (201 miles) away from Myanmar,” he said by phone, adding other countries and organisations should take care of the refugees.

ALSO READ THIS: INDIAN COAST GUARD FIND 81 ROHINGYA ADRIFT AT SEA, ASKS BANGLADESH TO TAKE THEM

Indian foreign ministry officials did not respond to requests for comment.

External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said on Thursday that India was “in discussions with the Government of Bangladesh to ensure their safe and secure repatriation.”

India’s foreign ministry did not respond to requests for comment on whether it would accept the refugees onto Indian soil.

One senior Indian official, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to discuss the matter with media, said India planned to help the refugees with food and water, but it was not planning to take them ashore.

New Delhi did not sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, which spells out refugee rights and state responsibilities to protect them. Nor does it have a law protecting refugees, though it currently hosts more than 200 000, including some Rohingya.

More than 1 million Rohingya refugees from predominantly Buddhist Myanmar are living in teeming camps in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, including tens of thousands who fled after Myanmar’s military conducted a deadly crackdown in 2017.

Traffickers often lure Rohingya refugees with promises of work in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, expressed alarm this week over the missing boat.

Read More…