The Boat Of Starving Rohingya Refugees That No Country Will Take In

05/14/2015 12:12 pm ET | Updated May 14, 2015

The emaciated faces of hundreds of refugees found adrift in Thai waters on Thursday spoke volumes about the scale of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in South Asia.

Reporters on Thursday found about 400 refugees from Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority crammed aboard a wooden fishing boat in the Andaman Sea, desperate for food and water.

The refugees said they had been at sea for almost three months and had fled persecution in their home country. They had hoped to reach Malaysia but were turned away by Malay authorities. Six days ago, smugglers abandoned their ship, and ten people had already perished onboard, refugees said.

Christophe Archambault, a photographer for Agence France Presse, captured the harrowing scenes onboard the ship, and the desperate scramble for supplies that were eventually dropped by the Thai military.

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Rohingya refugees are pictured on a boat off the southern Thai island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea on May 14, 2015.

Aid groups say at least 6,000 refugees -- and perhaps many times that number -- have been drifting for days and months in the waters between Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. They were abandoned with little food and water by human traffickers after a regional crackdown on smuggling networks. Most are Rohingya Muslims who are stateless in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape poverty.

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Rohingya migrants sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

Only a few boats have been able to reach safe shore. On Thursday, Thailand and Malaysia turned away boats crammed with starving refugees as officials washed their hands of the crisis. "We have to send the right message that they are not welcome here," Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jafaar told The Associated Press, adding: "What do you expect us to do?" Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha said it wasn't fair for his country to shoulder the burden of accepting refugees. "No one wants them," he said.

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A Rohingya woman cries as she stands on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

christophe rohingya

Rohingya migrants on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

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Rohingya women cry as they sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

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Rohingya migrants swim to collect food supplies dropped by a Thai army helicopter after they jumped off a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

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Rohingya refugees pass food supplies dropped by a Thai army helicopter to others aboard a boat on May 14, 2015.

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Rohingya refugees a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

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A Rohingya refugee with her child on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe, May 14, 2015.

christophe rohingya

Rohingya migrants bring back food supplies dropped by a Thai army helicopter after jumping to collect them at sea on May 14, 2015.

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