Rohingya Vision

Three Southeast Asia nations to meet amid migrant boat crisis

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Three Southeast Asia nations to meet amid migrant boat crisis
May 18
10:36 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia said on Monday that its foreign minister would meet his Thai and Indonesian counterparts in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday to discuss ways to tackle human trafficking, after thousands of desperate asylum seekers arrived on its shores in the past week.

Southeast Asian governments have so far shown little sign of a coordinated response to the boatloads of Bangladeshi migrants and persecuted Rohingya from Myanmar arriving in their waters.

Some 2,500 migrants have landed in Malaysia and Indonesia over the past week, while around 5,000 remain stranded at sea in rickety boats with dwindling supplies of food and water.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have turned back or towed overcrowded migrant boats away from their coastlines, in what the International Organisation for Migration has described as “maritime ping-pong with human lives”.

A meeting of Malaysian and Indonesian foreign ministers scheduled for Monday was put back until Wednesday to allow the Thai foreign minister to attend, a Malaysian foreign ministry official said.

Talks would focus on human trafficking and people smuggling in the region, the ministry said in a statement.

“Malaysia will continue to seek a solution on this issue through … concerted and coordinated efforts among the countries of origin, transit and destination,” the statement added.

Thai and Indonesian foreign ministry officials did not immediately comment on what they expected to get out of the meeting.

An estimated 25,000 Bangladeshis and  persecuted Rohingya boarded smugglers’ boats in the first three months of this year, twice as many as in the same period of 2014, the United Nations’ refugee agency has said.

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