Thailand appears to be ignoring a United Nations appeal to rescue those adrift in the Andaman Sea. A video has emerged purporting to show a navy vessel towing a boat full of migrants away from Thai waters.
It is believed to have been picked up by Malaysian authorities when it entered local waters.
Bangkok’s crackdown on human trafficking has seen smugglers abandon boats full of people, who are not always being taken to safety.
The majority of those attempting the crossing are minority Rohingya Muslims. Hailing from Myanmar, but officially stateless, they’re one of the most persecuted groups on the planet.
Thailand and Indonesia are pressing Myanmar to do more to prevent the situation from escalating.
Nearly 1,000 migrants came ashore in different parts of Indonesia on Friday. New arrivals are often weak, dehydrated and in need of medical attention.
UNHCR official Jeffrey Savage described the situation on the ground.
“We understand there are as many as 8,000 or more – we don’t really know – who are still on boats out in the Andaman Sea,” he said.
“UNHCR has called on the international community, particularly on the countries in the region, to undertake a massive search and rescue operation to bring those people to shore, give them the same kind of assistance and humanitarian support that we are giving in this group.”
The UN has urged southeast Asian nations to pull together to keep land and sea borders open to vulnerable people.
But for the moment, the countries do not seem to be cooperating.