Across a treacherous stretch of water, the Rohingya came by the thousands, then died by the hundreds. And though they know the dangers of fleeing by boat, many among this persecuted people say they will not stop — because the world has left them with no other choice. Last year, nearly 4,500 Rohingya — two-thirds of them women and children — fled their homeland of Myanmar and the refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh by boat, the United Nations’ refugee agency reported. Of those, 569 died or went missing while crossing the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, the highest death toll since 2014. The numbers mean one out of every eight Rohingya who attempted the crossing never made it, the UNHCR said last week. Yet despite the risks, there are no signs the stream of Rohingya is ebbing. On Thursday, Indonesian officials said another boat carrying Rohingya refugees landed in the country’s northern province of Aceh. Not a good time for Rohingya repatriation, UN Resident Coordinator says Fishermen provided food and water to 131 Rohingya, mostly women and children, who had been on board, said Marzuki, the leader of the local tribal fishing community, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. Some passengers told officials they had been at sea since last month and their boat's engine had broken down, leaving them adrift, said Lt. Col. Andi Susanto, commander of the navy base in Lhokseumawe. “Southeast Asian waters are one of the deadliest stretches in the world and a graveyard for many Rohingya who have lost their lives,” says Babar Baloch, UNHCR’s spokesman for Asia and the Pacific. “The rate of Rohingya who are dying at sea without being rescued — that’s really alarming and worrying.” Inside the squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than 750,000 ethnic Rohingya Muslims fled in 2017 following sweeping attacks by Myanmar’s military, the situation has grown increasingly desperate. Not even the threat of death at sea is enough to stop many from trying to traverse the region’s waters in a bid to reach Indonesia or Malaysia. “We need to choose the risky journey by boat because the international community has failed their responsibility,” says Mohammed Ayub, who is saving up money for a spot on one of the rickety wooden fishing boats traffickers use to ferry passengers 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) from Bangladesh to Indonesia. Global indifference toward the Rohingya crisis has left those languishing in the overcrowded camps with few alternatives to fleeing. Because Bangladesh bans the Rohingya from working, their survival is dependent upon food rations, which were slashed last year due to a drop in global donations. Returning safely to Myanmar is virtually impossible for the Rohingya, because the military that attacked them overthrew Myanmar’s democratically elected government in 2021. And no country is offering the Rohingya any large-scale resettlement opportunities. Meanwhile, a surge in killings, kidnappings and arson attacks by militant groups in the camps has left residents fearing for their lives. And so, starving, scared and out of options, they continue to board the boats. Ayub has lived in a sweltering, cramped shelter for more than six years in a camp where security and sanitation are scarce, and hope even scarcer. There is no formal schooling for his children, no way for him to earn money, no prospects for returning to his homeland and no refuge for his family amid spiraling gang violence. World must find an end to Rohingya crisis for their return to Myanmar: PM Hasina tells UK MPs “Of course I understand how dangerous the boat journey by sea is,” Ayub says. “We could die during the journey by boat. But it depends on our fate. ... It’s better to choose the dangerous way even if it’s risky, because we are afraid to stay in the camps.” Two hundred of the people who died or went missing at sea last year were aboard one boat that left Bangladesh in November. Eyewitnesses on a nearby boat told The Associated Press that the missing vessel, which was crowded with babies, children and mothers, broke down and was taking on water before it drifted off during a storm as its passengers screamed for help. It has not been seen since. It was one of several distressed boats that the region’s coastal countries neglected to save, despite the UNHCR’s requests for those countries to launch search and rescue missions. “When no action is taken, lives are lost,” says UNHCR’s Baloch. “If there is no hope restored in Rohingya lives either in Myanmar or in Bangladesh, there are no rescue attempts, (then) sadly we could see more desperate people dying in Southeast Asian seas under the watch of coastal authorities who could act to save lives.” Six of Mohammed Taher’s family members were aboard the boat that vanished in November, including his 15-year-old brother, Mohammed Amin, and two of Taher’s nephews, aged 3 and 4. Their ultimate destination was Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country where many Rohingya seek relative safety. Taher and his parents now struggle to sleep or eat, and spend their days agonizing over what became of their loved ones. Taher’s mother saw a fortune teller who said her relatives were still alive. Taher, meanwhile, dreamed that the boat made it to shore, where his relatives took refuge in a school and were able to bathe in warm water. But he remains unconvinced their journey ended so happily. And so he has vowed to tell everyone to stay off the boats, no matter how unbearable life on land has become. “I will never leave by boat on this difficult journey,” Taher says. “All the people who reached their destination are saying that it’s horrific traveling by boat.” Yet such warnings are often futile. Ayub is now preparing to sell his daughter’s jewelry to help pay for his spot on a boat. While he is frightened by the stories of those who didn’t make it, he is motivated by the stories of those who did. “Nobody would consider taking a risk by boat on a dangerous journey if they had better opportunities,” he says. “Fortunately, some people did reach their destination and got a better life. I am staying positive that Allah will save us.” FM hopeful of Rohingya repatriation soon
In response to the recent fire in one of the refugee camps, hosting nearly 1 million Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, the European Union has released €300 000 to assist the affected population. The incident left over 5 000 people without shelter. The funding will serve to provide immediate emergency assistance to address the most urgent needs, notably in terms of shelter, water and site development, said the EU Embassy in Dhaka on Tuesday. It will be implemented by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and complement efforts of other humanitarian partners. Read: Rohingya youth murdered over camp dominance in Cox’s Bazar In the early hours of 7 January, a large fire broke out in one of the most congested camps, Camp 5, where it quickly spread. Close to 950 shelters burned down or were partially destroyed. The fire also damaged communal facilities, including one health centre, 15 learning centres, as well as numerous latrines and washrooms. Despite the extensive damage, no casualties have been reported so far, thanks to the rapid intervention of the fire brigade with the essential help of Rohingya community volunteers. Since fires are frequent in the congested camps, EU-funded disaster preparedness programmes have helped humanitarian partners strengthen camp structures and better prepare for such risks. Read: A fire in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh guts more than 1,000 shelters This new funding comes in addition to the over €38 million provided by the EU last year in humanitarian aid to Bangladesh, notably in response to the Rohingya refugee crisis, but also to reduce the impact of natural hazards. Last March, when another devastating fire caused substantial damage in Cox’s Bazar camps, the EU released €1 million to assist the affected refugees.
Students in Indonesia's Aceh province rallied on Wednesday (December 27, 2023), demanding the government drive away Rohingya refugees who have been arriving by sea in growing numbers. The protest came as police named more suspects in human trafficking of refugees. Over 1,500 Rohingya — who fled violent attacks in Myanmar to subsequently leave overcrowded refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh in search of a better life elsewhere — have arrived in Aceh, on the tip of the island of Sumatra, since November. They have faced some hostility from fellow Muslims in Aceh. About 200 students protested in front of the provincial parliament in Banda Aceh, the capital of Aceh, calling on lawmakers to turn away the Rohingyas, saying their presence would bring social and economic upheaval to the community. "Get out Rohingya," the protesters chanted. Many criticized the government and the U.N. refugee agency for failing to manage the refugee arrivals. Some protesters burned tires on the street. "We urged the parliament speaker to immediately take a firm action to remove all Rohingya refugees from Aceh," said Teuku Wariza, one of the protest organizers. The protesters marched to a local community hall in Banda Aceh, where about 137 Rohingya are taking shelter. The demonstrators threw out clothes and household items belonging to the refugees, forcing authorities to relocate them to another shelter. Also read: Hundreds of residents on Indonesian island protest the growing arrival of Rohingya refugees by sea Footages obtained by The Associated Press shows a large group of refugees, mostly women and children, crying and screaming as a mob, wearing university green jackets, is seen breaking through a police cordon and forcibly putting the Rohingya on the back of two trucks. The incident drew an outcry from human rights group and the UNHCR, which said the attack left the refugees shocked and traumatized. "UNHCR reminds everyone that desperate refugee children, women and men seeking shelter in Indonesia are victims of persecution and conflict, and are survivors of deadly sea journeys," the agency said in a statement released late Wednesday. The statement called on local authorities to urgently act to protect the refugees and humanitarian workers. Indonesia had once tolerated the refugees while Thailand and Malaysia pushed them away. But the growing hostility of some Indonesians toward the Rohingya has put pressure on President Joko Widodo's government to take action. Also read: US finds Rohingya situation a priority, pledges to increase number of resettled refugees from Bangladesh in 2024 Widodo earlier this month said the government suspected a surge in human trafficking for the increase in Rohingya arrivals. Also Wednesday, police in Banda Aceh named two more suspected human smugglers from Bangladesh and Myanmar, following the Dec. 10 arrival of another boat with refugees. One of the suspects, the boat's captain, himself a refugee, was charged with trafficking. "This is not an easy issue, this is an issue with enormous challenges," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters. About 740,000 Rohingya were resettled in Bangladesh after fleeing their homes in Myanmar to escape a brutal counterinsurgency campaign carried out in 2017 by security forces. Accusations of mass rape, murder and the burning of entire villages are well documented, and international courts are considering whether Myanmar authorities committed genocide and other grave human rights abuses. Efforts to repatriate the Rohingya have failed because of doubts their safety can be assured. The Rohingya are largely denied citizenship rights in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and face widespread social discrimination. Also read: Holy See to Bangladesh urged to encourage Myanmar for sustainable Rohingyas repatriation
UNHCR, NGOs seek stronger partnerships for lasting solutions for forcibly displaced, stateless in Asia Pacific
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, together with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society actors in the Asia and the Pacific region, on Friday recommitted to enhanced collaboration to work towards sustainable solutions for the forcibly displaced and stateless. In collaboration with the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and the Asia Pacific Network of Refugees (APNOR), UNHCR’s Regional NGO Consultations for 2023 were held in Bangkok, Thailand on 14 and 15 September. The in-person and virtual event brought together over 180 participants, representing 161 organizations from 19 countries in the Asia and the Pacific to discuss topics around the central theme of “Promoting Inclusion for Sustainable Solutions.” 2 Rohingyas shot dead during gunfight at Ukhiya camp Currently, there are over 7 million refugees or asylum-seekers and 5 million conflict-affected internally displaced people (IDPs) in the region, as recorded at the end of 2022. Most of those displaced live in increasingly protracted situations in countries where they have found refuge. “Inclusion is a complex subject, often misinterpreted, but when dissected covers many of the key issues we collectively work on to find local solutions for refugees: education, livelihoods, skills and healthcare,” said Indrika Ratwatte, UNHCR Director for Asia and the Pacific. The consultations provided an opportunity for humanitarian partners in Asia and the Pacific to discuss best practices and approaches on how including displaced populations and stateless people in all aspects of life contributes to resilience and long-lasting solutions for the benefit of the whole society. UK to push for long-term solution to Rohingya crisis “Meaningful inclusion requires a shift in thinking that those forcibly displaced are not beneficiaries of support but are assets. They make important contributions to the communities that they are a part of and by extension require supportive policies and protections to really enable their inclusion,” said Keya Saha Chaudhury, ICVA Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific. Among the specific topics discussed were how UNHCR, NGOs, and community-based organizations can cooperate with and support member States to promote inclusion in national systems. “Empowering refugee-led organizations is essential. These organizations possess an intimate understanding of the communities they represent and can serve as valuable intermediaries, bridging communication gaps, and facilitating community-driven solutions. Secondly, promoting gender balance is imperative. Member states should actively work to ensure equitable representation of women in decision-making processes at all levels, both within refugee communities and in engagements with government bodies,” said Najeeba Wazefadost, APNOR Executive Director. UN Assistant Secretary-General Kanni Wignaraja visits Ukhia Rohingya camp Throughout the Consultations, participants also acknowledged the important role that refugee-led organizations and civil society play in the refugee response; how to further encourage countries in the region to engage in resettlement and complementary pathways; social-economic inclusion as well as the need for predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing. “We need to think of innovative ways to incorporate the skills that refugees bring to the host communities. We need to ensure that refugees have a platform to utilize those skills and be able to contribute to society so that they can go from vulnerable groups to capable communities,” said Hafsar Tameesuddin, APRRN Co-Secretary General of Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network. Recommendations from the discussions will be presented at UNHCR Executive Committee in October 2023 and inform and support the global NGO consultations in Geneva in June 2024. The first UNHCR-NGO Regional Consultations were held in July 2021, and focused on the social-economic inclusion of refugees in the context of Covid-19.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stopped providing food assistance to 23 Rohingya people belonging to four families in Cox’s Bazar. Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Md Mizanur Rahman confirmed the matter saying that their food aid has been stopped since Monday morning. “These 23 Rohingyas of four families have agreed over repatriation under a pilot project. Their food has been stopped since Monday morning. But UNHCR did not disclose why the food aid has been stopped," he said. Read: UNHCR ‘not involved’ in discussions on Bangladesh-Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya repatriation These Rohingyas are being provided with food assistance in an alternative way, he added. When contacted, Ikhtiyar Uddin Bayezid, deputy head of UNHCR's Cox's Bazar office, said that the higher officials can say the reason behind the discontinuation of the food assistance. Bangladesh and Myanmar recently decided to undertake a pilot repatriation project under which a group of verified Myanmar nationals will return to their country of origin in the first batch. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, said conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are currently “not conducive” to the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees. Read: OIC members must share responsibility for sustainable solution to Rohingya crisis: Momen “UNHCR’s position on returns of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar remains unchanged,” said the UN agency sharing its assessment. The UN agency said it is aware of the visit of a Myanmar delegation to Bangladesh to meet with a group of Rohingya refugees — on a bilateral pilot project between the two countries on possible repatriation. “UNHCR is not involved in these discussions,” it said in a statement on Bangladesh, Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya returns. The statement was shared by the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific on Sunday (March 19, 2023) night. Read: FM calls on global community to raise their voices to ensure safe return of Rohingyas
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has said conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State are currently “not conducive” to the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees. “UNHCR’s position on returns of Rohingya refugees to Myanmar remains unchanged,” said the UN agency sharing its assessment. The UN agency said it is aware of the visit of a Myanmar delegation to Bangladesh to meet with a group of Rohingya refugees — on a bilateral pilot project between the two countries on possible repatriation. “UNHCR is not involved in these discussions,” it said in a statement on Bangladesh, Myanmar pilot project on Rohingya returns. The statement was shared by the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific on Sunday (March 19, 2023) night. Read More: OIC members must share responsibility for sustainable solution to Rohingya crisis: Momen At the same time, the UNHCR reiterated that every refugee has a right to return to their home country based on an informed choice, but that no refugee should be forced to do so. Bangladesh has consistently reaffirmed its commitment to voluntary and sustainable repatriation since the onset of the crisis, it said. In support of efforts to preserve the right to return, UNHCR considers consultation of and dialogue with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh by all parties in relation to the conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhine State as important to enable refugees to make an informed choice about return and build confidence amongst the community. “This is particularly important as many refugees have reiterated that they do hope to go home to Myanmar as soon as conditions allow,” UNHCR said. Read More: FM calls on global community to raise their voices to ensure safe return of Rohingyas Following the events of August 2017, UNHCR has also consistently encouraged Myanmar to expeditiously verify the previous residence in Myanmar of refugees in Bangladesh, as part of efforts to lift any administrative obstacles to return when the refugees decide to do so. “UNHCR therefore supports efforts that could lead to the verification of all refugees and pave the way for eventual return. This most recently included providing logistical support to members of the Myanmar delegation to cross into Bangladesh for the technical verification process,” said the UN agency. UNHCR said it will continue to work with Bangladesh and Myanmar to ensure that Rohingya refugees maintain the right to return when they choose to do so, based on a fully informed and voluntary decision. UNHCR will also support efforts to create conditions that would be conducive to the sustainable return of Rohingya refugees in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. Read More: US announces $26m more in assistance for Rohingyas, host communities In Bangladesh, UNHCR will continue to support building the skills and capacities of the refugees to facilitate their eventual return and sustainable reintegration in Myanmar. The 2023 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis in Bangladesh was recently launched and UNHCR calls upon the international community’s continued robust support for this appeal which is currently 10 percent funded.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners are calling on the international community to redouble efforts for sustained financial support and solutions for Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi host communities them as the dire situation enters its sixth year. Under the leadership of the Bangladeshi authorities, the 2023 Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Humanitarian Crisis calls for $876 million to reach 1.47 million people. The Joint Response Plan brings together 116 partners, nearly half of them national organizations from Bangladesh. The Plan, which was launched today, aims to help some 978,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and on the island of Bhasan Char, and 495,000 Bangladeshis in neighbouring communities, with food, shelter, health care, access to drinkable water, protection services, education, as well as livelihood opportunities and skills development. Every day, the nearly one million Rohingya women, children and men that fled from violence and persecution in Myanmar for Bangladesh wake up in a chilling fog of uncertainty about their futures, said Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Dhaka, Bangladesh at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday. They are desperate to return to their homes in Myanmar, which are currently out of reach, and instead live in extremely overcrowded, and sometimes dangerous conditions in refugee camps, relying almost entirely on humanitarian assistance for their survival, the UNHCR envoy said. "While the situation has become protracted, the needs of refugees remain urgent. Women and children, who make up more than 75 per cent of the targeted refugee population, face higher risks of abuse, exploitation, and gender-based violence," said Johannes van der Klaauw. More than half of the refugees in the camps are under 18, their futures on hold. Since the onset of this humanitarian crisis in 2017, the Government of Bangladesh and local communities, with aid agencies, have been quick to respond to arriving refugees in what remains the world’s largest refugee camp. However, as global displacement continues to rise, so does the risk that the needs of Rohingya refugees and surrounding host communities will be forgotten, Johannes added With decreased funding, refugees stand to face even more challenges in their daily lives in terms of proper nutrition, shelter materials, sanitation facilities and livelihood opportunities. The lack of funds has already forced the World Food Programme to cut its lifesaving food assistance to all Rohingya living in the camps; despite concerted humanitarian efforts, 45 per cent of Rohingya families are not eating a sufficiently healthy diet and malnutrition is widespread. These ration cuts are likely to result in higher malnutrition rates, deteriorating health, school dropouts, increased incidents of child marriage, child labour and gender-based violence. "It is therefore vital to ensure continued funding and support to be able to deliver life-saving and life-sustaining assistance to the camp population while also investing in education, skills training and livelihood opportunities, allowing refugees to partially fulfil their basic needs with their own means," he said. The relocation of some 30,000 Rohingya to the island of Bhasan Char needs to be complemented by significant investment in communal livelihood initiatives as a prerequisite for the viability and sustainability of the project. The combination of prolonged displacement and deteriorating camp conditions has prompted an increasing number of refugees to resort to dangerous boat journeys to seek a better future. Last year alone, more than 3,500 Rohingya attempted high-risk boat journeys across the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. Sadly, 10 per cent lost their lives or went missing. The solutions to the Rohingya crisis ultimately lie within Myanmar. Many Rohingya refugees continue to express their desire to return home when conditions allow, yet currently there is no prospect for a safe, dignified and sustainable return in the immediate future. "Hence, steadfast support from the international community remains crucial to support efforts by Myanmar to develop conditions conducive for return and to uphold the Rohingya right to return, while also supporting delivery of life-saving assistance and effective protection to refugees in the camps until they can return, with their rights ensured." Given its geography, annual cycles of heavy monsoon rains and cyclones pose substantial risks to refugees in camps and host communities. Among the objectives of the Joint Response Plan, in coordination with the Government of Bangladesh, will be to strengthen disaster risk management and combat the effects of climate change through reforestation and promoting the use of renewable and cleaner energy sources. The provision of cooking gas, which has significantly eased pressure on the environment, requires significant funding.
The government of Japan and UNHCR have signed an agreement for the protection and assistance of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. The contribution of US$ 4.5 million [JPY 600 million] will be used for reinforcement of life-saving and life-sustaining services by improving the livelihood of refugees and host communities in Cox’s Bazar and on Bhasan Char. An exchange of notes was signed on Wednesday by Iwama Kiminori, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, and Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh, said the Japanese Embassy in Dhaka on Wednesday. Also Read: Japanese PM's special advisor for human rights issues visits Bangladesh "This new contribution from the government of Japan for some of UNHCR’s essential protection and assistance programs as well as livelihood activities in the camps in Cox’s Bazar and on Bhasan Char comes at a critical time now that we are facing a looming funding crisis already manifest in reduced refugee access to food”, said Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh. He said Japan is once more at the forefront of supporting UNHCR programmes in Bangladesh. “We hope this contribution will also serve as a catalyst for other donors to follow suit”. During his visit to Cox's Bazar last month, Ambassador Iwama said he was impressed by the use of information technology for the joint management of the registration for Rohingya refugees by the Government of Bangladesh and UNHCR. “I was also delighted to witness strengthened livelihood assistance in collaboration with a Japanese company, where Rohingya women produce sanitary goods. We will continue to engage in the solution for a voluntary, safe and sustainable return , and will cooperate with UNHCR and other humanitarian partners to achieve better living conditions for refugees and host communities.” said H.E. Iwama Kiminori, Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh,” he said. Also Read: Japan to provide grant aid for 2 projects Ambassador Iwama expressed his hope that the support from the government of Japan would improve living conditions of both Rohingya and local communities. “Also, I was profoundly touched by the tireless activities of the Government of Bangladesh, the UN agencies, and NGOs. I recognized the need for continuous support for them, and we will commit to that,” he said. Since the large influx in August 2017, Japan has contributed over US$ 204 million to various interventions in Cox's Bazar as well as in Bhasan Char through international organizations and NGOs. This assistance includes food assistance, healthcare, WASH, shelter, protection, and gender.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, together with the Bangladesh government will soon launch the Joint Response Plan for 2023 to appeal to donor partners for funding to meet the needs of Rohingyas in Bangladesh and the local communities hosting them here. “We shall appeal for approximately $876 million in all relevant sectors, of which some $67 million would be required for our operations on Bhasan Char,” Johannes van der Klaauw, UNHCR Representative in Bangladesh, told UNB in an exclusive interview. As in the past, he said, they do not expect this budget to be funded to the full, but the gap is expected to be much larger in the coming year. “We therefore need to redouble our efforts to mobilize resources and notably development funding, to be used in a flexible manner, as humanitarian aid budgets are no longer available,” said the senior UN official. At the same time, Klaauw said, they are prioritizing funding needs more than before — focusing on the most vulnerable and addressing the most critical gaps. Read more: Vulnerable Rohingyas: US to consider resettlement recommendations from UNHCR UNHCR continues to appeal for further investments by the international community in refugees’ education and skills development, including vocational training and other forms of capacity-building for adolescent and adult refugees, and opportunities to put the acquired learning and skills into practice through livelihood projects. Rohingya refugees should be allowed to become self-reliant, to purchase part of their daily food, cooking gas, household items, as general distribution of these commodities will no longer be possible as a result of a reduction in financial support from the international community, said Klaauw who leads UNHCR’s response for the Rohingya refugees hosted in the country. This will allow the refugees to support their communities and live with dignity while in exile in Bangladesh, and above all to prepare them for rebuilding their lives when they can voluntarily and safely return to Myanmar, he said.
More than 3,500 desperate Rohingya attempted deadly sea crossings in 39 boats in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal in 2022, according to the latest data from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. This represents a 360 per cent increase on the year before when some 700 people made similar journeys, said UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Tuesday. In the absence of a comprehensive regional response to address these perilous maritime movements, UNHCR warns that more people will die on the high seas, under the watch of many coastal States. UNHCR has recorded an alarming rise in the death toll. At least 348 individuals died or went missing at sea in 2022, making it one of the deadliest years since 2014. Some 3,040 individuals who undertook the sea journey disembarked in 2022, primarily in Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh. Nearly 45 per cent of those who disembarked were women and children, according to the UN Refugee Agency. In the last two months of 2022, four boats carrying over 450 Rohingya disembarked in Aceh, Indonesia. One boat carrying over 100 Rohingya disembarked in Sri Lanka. One boat is feared to have sunk in early December with approximately 180 individuals on board. Several boats that departed in December remained at sea as of the end of the year. Read more: Very limited spaces offered for Rohingya resettlement: UNHCR Calls by UNHCR to maritime authorities in the region to rescue and disembark people in distress have gone unheeded with many boats adrift for weeks. Most boats departed from Myanmar and Bangladesh, highlighting the growing sense of desperation amongst Rohingya in those two countries. Those who have disembarked report that they undertook these dangerous sea journeys in an effort to find protection, security, family reunification, and livelihoods in other countries. Among them are victims of trafficking, unaccompanied and separated children, and survivors of sexual- and gender-based violence. The current crisis in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea is a crisis of solidarity, UNHCR said. The Bali Process, a forum for policy dialogue, information sharing and cooperation to address people smuggling, human trafficking and related transnational crime, will hold its 8th Ministerial meeting in February. Read more: Vulnerable Rohingyas: US to consider resettlement recommendations from UNHCR UNHCR repeats its call for prompt search and rescue and timely disembarkation in a place of safety, and for support to countries where Rohingya refugees are disembarked. "We call on countries to redouble efforts to prevent human smuggling and trafficking," said UNHCR spokesperson Shabia Mantoo at a press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. There is also a need for humanitarian responsibility to be more evenly distributed among countries in the region to ensure protection responses are predictable, equitable, and sustainable. The region and the international community need to support efforts to address the root causes of displacement in Myanmar. Until these are resolved, refugees will continue to undertake dangerous journeys in search of safety.