TEHRAN (Press Shia) – A rescue ship that has plucked tens of thousands of refugees from the Mediterranean is shifting operations to Southeast Asia to help Rohingya Muslims fleeing violence in Myanmar, an aid group said.
The Malta-based MOAS, or Migrant Offshore Aid Station, announced the decision after Pope Francis had called for an international response to help the Rohingya Muslims, AP reported.
It said in a statement Monday it would provide aid on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border "where a deadly exodus is unfolding."
The ship – named "Phoenix" – has rescued tens of thousands of migrants from smugglers boats that were distressed, sinking or capsized in the Mediterranean since it began operating in 2014.
Myanmar’s military intensified attacks on Rohingya Muslims on August 25, after dozens of police and border outposts in the western state of Rakhine came under attack by an armed group, which is said to be defending the rights of the Rohingya.
The Muslim community had already been under a military siege in Rakhine since October 2016. The government used a militant attack on border guards back then as the pretext to enforce the lockdown. The Rohingya had already been subject to communal violence by extremist Buddhists for years.
Myanmar’s military is accused of committing atrocities and crimes against Rohingya people, who are considered by the UN as the “most persecuted minority group in the world.”
According to a United Nations report published on Monday, a total of 87,000 mostly Rohingya Muslims—including women and children, many with bullet wounds— have arrived in Bangladesh since last month.