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article imageDozens missing as boat carrying Muslim Rohingya sinks off Myanmar

By Layne Weiss     Nov 3, 2013 in World
Yangon - A boat carrying at least 70 Muslim Rohingya capsized off the coast of Myanmar Sunday. Aid workers say that only eight survivors have been rescued.
The wooden boat was headed for Bangladesh when it broke apart four hours into the trip. The Associated Press reports.
The incident comes after the UN warned Friday that an annual exodus of desperate boat people from Myanmar's Rakhine state. These journeys often turn out deadly.
The exodus happens every year around November as this is the time when the seas begin to calm following the yearly monsoon.
Though this journey is dangerous, Rohingya Muslims board the flimsy boats desperate to leave as they have been displaced by violence in the area, BBC News reports.
Many Rohingya Muslims find shelter in tents or camps.
Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the UNHCR, said Friday as many as 1,500 people have fled Rakhine state in the last week, The AP reports.
He said the UNHCR had received many reports of drownings and was seeking details.
Those trying to flee are very vulnerable to poor weather conditions, engine trouble as the boats are never that reliable, and being sold by traffickers in Thailand, BBC News reports.
Little has been done to improve the conditions of the Rohingya people.
They are segregated and forbidden to attend schools or be treated in hospitals. They are not allowed to travel, and families cannot have more than two children without getting special permission.
Rohingyas are described by the UN as a "persecuted and linguistic minority." They are from western Burma, but are not recognized as Burmese citizens.
Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist nation, which has been the site of severe sectarian violence in the last 18 months, The AP reports. More than 240 people have been killed and 250,000 have fled their homes. Most of the victims are Rohingya Muslims. They are chased down by Buddhist mobs with machetes, iron chains and bamboo clubs.
More about west burma, Myanmar, dozens missing, Boat sinks, Rohingya muslims
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