Boat people suffer as officials block help

By May 20, 2015

(Photo courtesy Partners Relief and Development)

[UPDATE: Praise God! Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia vow to NOT push boat people back into the sea! Click here for details.]

SE Asia (MNN) — There’s a lot of talk, but not much action in Southeast Asia.

Thousands of Rohingya refugees, commonly termed “the boat people,” are stranded at sea, dying slowly. The total number is unknown, but estimates range from 8,000 to 20,000.

How did the boat people come to be?

Foreign ministers from Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia are meeting in Kuala Lumpur today,  not to find a solution but to discuss how refugees got there in the first place.

In a statement released earlier this week by Malaysia’s foreign ministry, “Talks would focus on human trafficking and people smuggling in the region.” Boat people were reportedly “high on the list” of priorities for today’s meeting, but no specifics had yet been released at press time.

More high-level talks are scheduled for May 29.

“One of our goals is to bring enough international attention to this crisis so the countries–Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, in particular–[will feel] forced to do something to help these people,” shares Oddny Gumaer, co-founder of Partners Relief and Development.

You can help by sharing this story on your Facebook page.

Partners’ response

Right now, a small Partners team is at the water’s edge, ready to help boat people with emergency supplies and a message of hope only Christ can bring.

They’ve been trying to reach the refugees for days but kept running into obstacles, Gumaer reports; today, it appears they finally have access.

(Image courtesy Partners)

(Image courtesy Partners)

In order to reach the stranded Rohingya, they need your prayers.

“The Thai Navy has blockaded access to these boats,” shares Gumaer.

“They don’t want journalists or media or aid organizations to get to the boats, even if it is only to give the people water.”

Please ask the Lord for miraculous intervention so Partners’ team can reach the boat people. Ask Him to give the team wisdom and protection. Pray for endurance and strength for suffering Rohingya.

In the past, Gumaer says, demonstrations of Christ-like compassion have led to questions from the Rohingya, such as “Why are you helping us?” and “Why do you care?”

“When we have shared with them that we are Christians, and we are doing this because we believe that God loves them and that He hasn’t forgotten them, they say, ‘We really appreciate that; please continue to pray to your God for our situation,'” Gumaer shares.

Circumstances remain difficult for the Rohingya to follow Christ, and Gumaer says none have committed their lives yet. But they remain open to His people and their message.

Pray for softened hearts among the boat people. Pray that as the Partners team provides emergency help, the Rohingya will see Christ through them and that their eyes will be opened to His Truth.

Your response

Now that you know about the boat people and their plight, what will you do? While prayer is the first and foremost need, Gumaer suggests additional options.


“All the money that we have, we are now spending to help these people,” she shares. “The more funding we have, the more people we can help.”

Help Partners save the Rohingya.


Despite the best efforts of governments in Southeast Asia, word is getting out about the boat people. “They don’t want the world to know what’s going on,” explains Gumaer.

Use this photo for your Facebook cover picture & encourage your family and friends to do the same. (Photo, caption courtesy Partners)

Use this photo for your Facebook cover picture & encourage your family and friends to do the same.
(Photo, caption courtesy Partners)

Make your friends aware by sharing this story on social media. Join the social chorus already calling for change by using #SaveTheRohingya in your post.

“By reading and sharing what they’re reading, and speaking about it, [people] are helping.”

If you’re reading this in the U.S., ask your elected officials to help the boat people.

“Contact your politicians and your senators, and tell them that you would like the United States to put more sanctions on Myanmar until they change their policies on the Rohingya,” Gumaer requests.

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