Pressure on Southeast Asian states grows to end migrant tragedies
by Daily Sabah with AP
ISTANBULMay 15, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah with AP
May 15, 2015 12:00 am
Amid deteriorating humanitarian situation of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stranded at sea, Southeast Asian nations refuse to let them come to shore. More than 1,000 migrants came ashore in different parts of Indonesia and Thailand on Friday, becoming the latest refugees to slip into Southeast Asian countries that have made it clear the boat people are not welcome. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "alarmed by reports that some countries may be refusing entry to boats carrying refugees and migrants," according to a statement from his office Thursday. Ban urged governments in the region to "facilitate timely disembarkation and keep their borders and ports open in order to help the vulnerable people who are in need."
The United States stepped up its calls for governments to work together to save migrants stranded off the coasts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, saying that lives are in danger saying that a regional solution is required to end migrant crisis. It appears reluctant to provide direct U.S. help in search and rescue. "This is a regional issue. It needs a regional solution in short order," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke told reporters Thursday.
In the last three years, more than 120,000 minority Rohingya Muslims have fled oppression in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, paying huge sums to human smugglers. But faced with a recent regional crackdown, the smugglers have abandoned the ships, leaving an estimated 6,000 refugees to fend for themselves, according to reliable aid workers and human rights groups.
The U.N. considers Rohingyas to be one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Despite many families having lived in Myanmar for generations, government authorities still consider them to be illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. Rohingya Muslims have long been subjected to severe discrimination and violence under the Burmese dictatorship. The violent surge of Buddhist nationalism against minority Muslim communities in the state of Rakhine in Myanmar makes them the victims of political and religious extremism. Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic group who are not recognized among the 134 official ethnicities of Myanmar, nor are they recognized as citizens of Myanmar because the government authorities see them as illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh. They suffer from statelessness as they are deprived of the right to nationality.