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Activist group to launch ship in SE Asia to aid refugees

A human rights advocacy group will launch a maritime mission to aid refugees in the Andaman Sea, it announced today.

The group called Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) said the mission will begin on March 3 and remain at sea for at least four weeks.

“Our aim is to generate a better understanding of the movements by the refugees and migrants and be ready to assist in cases where there is an imminent threat to loss of life,” group founder Christopher Catrambone said.

The region was plunged into crisis in 2015 when thousands of Rohingya refugees were trapped on smuggling boats after Thailand closed down transit routes. The Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar lacks citizen’s rights and is persecuted by the Buddhist majority.

“Thousands of Rohingya refugees have died needlessly on risky boat journeys over the years, fleeing persecution and abuse,” said Matthew Smith, executive director of rights group Fortify Rights.

“MOAS brings a much-needed service to the region.”

- dpa

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