Evacuees from Sabah: 750 new arrivals; total 5,189 since March 6

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 March) –  The number of evacuees from Sabah since March 6 has reached 5,189 as of 5 p.m. on April 1 or 750 more arrivals from the 11 a.m. March 27 update of 4,439, records from the Regional Human Rights Commission  (RHRC) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) showed.

The RHRC’s “Sabah Evacuee Map” as of April 1 lists as among the new arrivals 143 persons who were “part of one big group that arrived in Taganak (Tawi-tawi) on unknown dates in different smaller boats.”

Two navy boats, PG 370 Jose Andrada and PS 36BRP Apolinario Mabini were dispatched to rescue them from Taganak.

Thousands had been fleeing Sabah for fear of getting caught in the crossfire in the operations Malaysian authorities launched against members of the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and Northern Borneo” to flush them out of Lahad Datu in Sabah.

The figure 5,189 does not include the 288 persons persons on board a commercial ferry who arrived in Zamboanga City on March 2 following their deportation from Sabah and whose deportation had nothing to do with the standoff  in Lahad Datu.

The RHRC’s “Sabah Evacuee Map” (see attached map) shows a total of 5,189 evacuees, 288 classified under “organized” or those officially deported by Sabah, and the remaining 5,189 classified under “self” or voluntary evacuation.

The 5,189 evacuees arrived on 64 boats from Sabah, Tawau, Sandakan, Semporna, Perda and Lahad Datu.

Sulu posted the highest number of arrivals at 3,589 on board 22 boats, followed by Tawi-tawi’s 1,284 on board 39 boats and Basilan at 290 on board two boats.

The RHRC map lists the following new arrivals:
– 249 evacuees from Sandakan, Sabah arrived on 27 March in Sulu via ML Nur Ina
–    14 evacuees from Perda, Lahad Datu arrived on 27 March in Tawi-Tawi via ML Wan Express
–     five evacuees from Semporna, Sabah arrived on 27 March in Tawi-Tawi via Pappit
–    78 evacuees from Sabah arrived on 28 March in Sulu (vessel’s name to be determined)
–    30 evacuees from Sandakan,Sabah arrived on 29 March in Tawi-Tawi via PG 370 Jose Andrada
–    143 evacuees from Taganak, Turtle Island, Tawi-Tawi arrived between March 27 and 29 in Basilan, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga via PS 36 BRP Apolinario Mabini and PG 370 Jose Andrada. The evacuees’ places of origin in Sabah and exact arrival date in Taganak are still to be determined as these evacuees came in smaller boats.
–   42 evacuees from Semporna, Sabah arrived on 30 March in Tawi-Tawi via Everlines-Queen Emilia
–  149 evacuees from Sandakan,Sabah arrived on 30 March in Tawi-Tawi via MS Jamila
–    35 evacuees from Semporna,Sabah arrived on 30 March in Tawi-Tawi via ML Wan Express and
–   35 evacuees from Semporna,Sabah arrived on 01 April to Tawi-Tawi via Magnolia Lili Flora

Lawyer Laisa Masuhud Alamia, RHRC chair, in her report said, the RHRC investigators “are still on the ground in Sulu and Tawi-Tawi continuing to monitor the situation of the Sabah evacuees as well as documenting testimonies of evacuees on alleged human rights violations.”  (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)