To date, MOAS has undertaken two missions in the Andaman Sea.
From October 2015 to May 2016, the M/Y Phoenix was deployed to monitor the Andaman route, along which thousands of Rohingya people were attempting to flee Myanmar and reach a better life in Malaysia.
Rohingya refugees were travelling 1,500 nautical miles south in search of security and employment. Many were lured aboard trawlers by human traffickers and held for ransom. In some cases, when they made it to dry land, they were again held captive until families could pay for their freedom. This route generated numerous fatalities due to the brutal conditions of the crossing and the senseless murders that occurred both at sea and on land.
During our first mission in the Andaman Sea, MOAS was able to expand diplomatic relations in Southeast Asia, working closely with stakeholders in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Indonesia to establish a vital network of information-sharing for advocacy around regional SAR. Our partner organisation Xchange also conducted a survey of 1,000 Rohingya people to understand how they perceived migration in the region – you can read the full report here.
Following escalating violence against the Rohingya in the summer of 2017, MOAS deployed the M/Y Phoenix to the Andaman Sea a second time in April 2018 to conduct a one-month monitoring and observation mission.
This mission traversed over 2,674 nautical miles and five national SAR regions, improving situational awareness of conditions along this route. In line with MOAS’ founding principle that no-one deserves to die at sea, our experienced SAR team were on board to assist in case of emergency.
MOAS continues to monitor the ongoing situation and to call on the international community to urgently establish an independent maritime mission in the Andaman Sea, to safeguard the human rights of desperate Rohingya refugees forced to flee violent oppression in Myanmar.