Missing Rohingya refugees found alive on Malaysian islet

Missing Rohingya refugees found alive on Malaysian islet
Malaysia does not recognize refugee status, but the Muslim-majority country is a favored destination for Rohingya Muslims seeking a better life after escaping a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar. (Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency via AP)
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Updated 27 July 2020

Missing Rohingya refugees found alive on Malaysian islet

Missing Rohingya refugees found alive on Malaysian islet
  • Malaysia does not recognize refugee status but is a favored destination for Rohingya Muslims
  • Refugees were believed to have transferred to a small boat to sneak into Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-six Rohingya refugees, who had been feared drowned while trying to swim ashore on the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi, were found alive hiding in the bushes on a nearby islet, a senior coast guard official said on Monday.
Malaysia does not recognize refugee status, but the Muslim-majority country is a favored destination for Rohingya Muslims seeking a better life after escaping a 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar and, more recently, refugee camps in Bangladesh.
Late on Saturday, one Rohingya swam ashore from a small boat off Langkawi’s west coast. Officials had feared that the rest of the group had drowned while trying to reach the beach, but they were later discovered on an islet just off the coast.
“They were found hiding in the bushes on the island,” Mohd Zubil Mat Som, director-general of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said in a text message.
Authorities have detained the refugees. Two more Rohingya migrants have also been arrested for suspected trafficking in connection with the people found, Mohd Zubil said.
The refugees were believed to have transferred to a small boat to sneak into Malaysia, having traveled on a “motherboat” carrying hundreds of Rohingya from Bangladesh, the coast guard official said.
In a statement, MMEA’s provincial director Mohd Zawawi Abdullah said the refugees were smuggled in on local fishing boats that acted as “transporters” to bring them to Langkawi.
“Our investigations found that this syndicate transfers migrants from motherboats near the maritime border to local fishing boats to evade local authorities,” Zawawi said. Last month, Malaysia had detained 269 Rohingya who arrived in Langkawi on a damaged boat. Mohd Zubil had said at the time that dozens of people on the boat were believed to have perished during a voyage that lasted four months.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last month Malaysia was unable to take in any more Rohingya, citing a struggling economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic.


Kremlin says would welcome Biden’s efforts to extend New START arms control treaty

Kremlin says would welcome Biden’s efforts to extend New START arms control treaty
Updated 20 January 2021

Kremlin says would welcome Biden’s efforts to extend New START arms control treaty

Kremlin says would welcome Biden’s efforts to extend New START arms control treaty
  • The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads
  • A failure to extend New START could fuel a potential arms race and tensions between Moscow and Washington

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Wednesday it remained committed to extending the New START nuclear arms control treaty with the United States and would welcome efforts promised by the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden to reach agreement.
The New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) accord, which was signed in 2010 and expires in February, limits the numbers of strategic nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers that Russia and the United States can deploy.
“Russia and its president are in favor of preserving this agreement,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call. “If our American colleagues will in fact demonstrate a political will to preserve this pact by extending it, this can only be welcomed.”
Biden’s choice for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday that the incoming US administration would seek to extend the pact and decide how long an extension to pursue.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last year called on Washington to extend the last major nuclear arms pact between the two countries for a year without any conditions.
A failure to extend New START could fuel a potential arms race and tensions between Moscow and Washington.