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Boat Ferrying Myanmar Rohingya Capsizes, Kills at Least 21

  • VOA News

FILE - Rohingya Muslims travel on a boat along a river in Buthidaung township, Myanmar, June 7, 2015. A boat carrying more than 60 people capsized in rough waters off of Sittwe in Myanmar's Rakhine state Tuesday.

FILE - Rohingya Muslims travel on a boat along a river in Buthidaung township, Myanmar, June 7, 2015. A boat carrying more than 60 people capsized in rough waters off of Sittwe in Myanmar's Rakhine state Tuesday.

A boat carrying more than 60 people capsized in rough waters off of Sittwe in Myanmar's Rakhine state on Tuesday, killing at least 21, including nine children, according to a U.N. official.

Janet Jackson, U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar, also known as Burma, issued a statement saying six survivors were being treated for injuries at local health facilities, and that other victims remain missing.

She also said the majority of the passengers on the boat were internally displaced people from Sin Tet Maw, a camp for the Rohingya Muslim minority, who were on an authorized day-trip to make purchases at market.

"This accident serves as a tragic reminder of the vulnerabilities that many communities and families face in this area of Rakhine, where their only option is to use this mode of travel in order to access markets, livelihoods and other basic services that are essential for a dignified life," Jackson said.

The Rohingya are unable to travel freely within the country and cannot marry or have children without official permission.

According to a report by Agence France Presse, witnesses blamed the tragedy on these transit restrictions, which force displaced persons to travel by sea.

The United Nations on April 4 gave Myanmar's incoming civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) 100 days to improve living conditions for the country's ethnic minority Rohingya community.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP. The report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Burmese Service.

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