Ship that saved migrants from Mediterranean dispatched to Asia on Rohingya refugee rescue mission

Malta-based vessel Phoenix to intervene in 'deadly exodus unfolding' on Burma-Bangladesh border after state-sponsored violence inflicted on Muslim minority

Tuesday 05 September 2017 11:45 BST
The MOAS rescue ship Phoenix moored in the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, Italy
The MOAS rescue ship Phoenix moored in the Sicilian harbour of Pozzallo, Italy (Francesco Malavolta/AP)

A rescue ship that has plucked tens of thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean is shifting operations to South East Asia to help Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Burma, the 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.

It said in a statement on Monday it would provide aid on the Burma-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.

However, the number of migrants leaving Libya's lawless coast has plummeted since July. The decrease has been attributed to increased Libyan coast guard patrols and an Italy-backed deal cut with the Libyan militias that long facilitated trafficking to crack down on smuggling instead.


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