The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has expressed concern over reports that more than 70 ethnic Rohingya have been deported to Myanmar from Thailand.
“We continue to request access to this group if they are still on Thai soil,” Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the agency, told IRIN on 4 January. “At this point, we simply don’t know.”
Her comments follow media reports that Thai immigration authorities had deported 73 Rohingya asylum seekers, including at least a dozen children, to Myanmar, after their boat, en route to Malaysia, was intercepted in Thai waters on 1 January.
On 3 January, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Thailand to halt its deportation plans and allow UNHCR to handle the case. “The Thai government should scrap its inhumane policy of summarily deporting Rohingya, who have been brutally persecuted in Burma, and honour their right to seek asylum,” said Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director.