Thailand Burma Rohingya

Rohingya refugees sit in a boat as they are intercepted by Thai authorities off the sea in Phuket, southern Thailand Tuesday. Pic: AP.

PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — Officials say 73 refugees from Burma’s Rohingya minority found adrift off a Thai resort island will be repatriated to their homeland.

Phuket provincial Governor Maitri Inthusut said Wednesday they declared they were unable to continue their hoped-for journey to Malaysia due to exhaustion and fear of mishaps at sea.

Maitri said 12 children were among the 73 refugees, all of whom will be sent back to Burma by land on transport provided by Thai immigration police.

Thai authorities on Tuesday had supplied medicine, food and fuel to the asylum seekers, so they could continue their journey. Thai policy is to not accept boat people but to aid them in reaching a third country.

Sectarian violence last year in Burma involving the Rohingya left hundreds dead and many more homeless.

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