Kuala Lumpur: Thirty-seven Rohingya Muslims were discovered on the Kuala Perlis beach in Malaysia on Monday, authorities said, sparking fears of a fresh exodus of the minority community in Myanmar.
This is the second group of Rohingyas found in northwest Peninsular Malaysia, near the border with Thailand, after 35 members of the community were discovered in the same district in March.
Perlis police chief Datuk Noor Mushar Mohamed told reporters that the group held on Monday were all men who had divided themselves into three separate groups after landing in Malaysia.
But they were arrested by the local border police soon after, Mohamed was cited as saying by Efe news.
In recent months, dozens of Rohingyas have embarked on the dangerous sea journey to Malaysia from Myanmar or Bangladesh.
The Rohingyas, mostly Muslims, have been living in Myanmar’s Rakhine state for many generations. But Myanmar authorities do not recognize them as citizens and consider them to be Bangladeshi immigrants, denying them basic rights.
In 2017, the Myanmar military carried out a brutal campaign, termed as “ethnic cleansing” by the UN, against the Rohingyas.
The crackdown forced more than 700,000 members of the community – the majority of the Rohingya population in Rakhine – to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh after a militant group, Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, attacked multiple security posts in the state.
Most of the refugees live under harsh conditions in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area near the Myanmar border, making it the world’s largest refugee camp.
The International Federation of the Red Cross had warned in February that 82 per cent of these refugees live in homes built with bamboo and shredded plastic that are now battered, putting them at great risk during the approaching cyclone season, accompanied by heavy rainfall and extreme temperatures.