'Human Ping Pong': Abandoned Migrants Drinking Own Urine

Region's countries won't accept ships carrying Rohingya Muslims
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2015 12:11 PM CDT
'Human Ping Pong': Abandoned Migrants Drinking Own Urine
In this Monday, May 11, 2015, file photo, Illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh arrive at the Langkawi police station's multi purpose hall in Langkawi, Malaysia.   (AP Photo/Hamzah Osman, File)

(Newser) – A wooden fishing vessel carrying up to 400 Burmese migrants is adrift in the Andaman Sea off Thailand with nowhere to go as Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia play what a rep from Human Rights Watch Asia calls "a three-way game of human ping pong." Amid an influx of migrants, the countries have vowed to turn away all migrant ships that reach their lands, reports the New York Times. The passengers of the fishing vessel, Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Burma, say they've been on board for almost three months and without food or water for six days after the captain and crew abandoned the ship without a functioning engine, reports the BBC. "Please help us! I have no water!" they yelled as journalists approached. At least 160 men, women, and children could be seen on deck, including some who were drinking their own urine. They say many others are below deck and 10 have already died.

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Between 6,000 and 20,000 migrants fleeing poverty or persecution in Burma and Bangladesh are believed to be adrift in nearby waters and some 2,000 who were rescued or swam ashore have arrived in Malaysia or Indonesia over two days this week. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called on regional governments to rescue trapped or abandoned migrants amidst “a potential humanitarian disaster,” but the journalists only witnessed the Thai Navy throw instant noodles to the vessel's passengers. "What do you expect us to do?" Malaysia's deputy home minister says, per the AP. "We have been very nice to the people who broke into our border. We have treated them humanely, but they cannot be flooding our shores like this. We have to send the right message that they are not welcome here." (Read more migrants stories.)

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