UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges Southeast Asian nations to help Rohingya migrants
Migrants wait to be be rescued by Acehnese fishermen on their boat on the sea off East Aceh, Indonesia, Wednesday, May 20, 2015. (Source: AP)
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on on Saturday asked Southeast Asian nations to deal with the causes behind a growing humanitarian crisis that has forced thousands of Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladeshi migrants to flee by sea, leaving many still stranded in boats.
Ban said he has been discussing the emergency with regional leaders in Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand, among others, and urged them to provide search and rescue operations and options for resettlement and reintegration.
“It’s important to save human lives,” he said on a visit to Hanoi, Vietnam. But it’s also important “not to send them back to a dangerous circumstance or situation.”
More than 3,600 migrants about half of them Bangladeshi and the others minority Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have landed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since May 10. Thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea, and the United Nations has warned that time is running out.
Four Malaysian navy ships began searching for boats Friday, according to navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar, who said three helicopters and three other ships were on standby.
The Malaysian search is a positive sign, but the country’s operation is limited to the country’s territorial waters.
A spokesman for the US Pentagon said Thursday that Washington was readying air patrols to aid in the search. A US Embassy spokeswoman in Bangkok, Melissa weeney, told The Associated Press in an email Saturday that the offer of assistance was still awaiting clearance.
“We’re actively engaging with the governments of the region to obtain their support and permissions for staging these flights,” she said.
Last week, Malaysia and Indonesia announced they would provide temporary shelter to the migrants for up to one year, and the US has said it would settle some of them permanently.
Speaking Friday in Myanmar, US Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the Rohingyas fleeing the predominantly Buddhist nation were risking perilous journeys and putting their lives in the hands of human traffickers because “they are in despair and don’t see a future” at home.
The Rohingya, numbering at around 1.3 million, have been identified by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. They have been denied citizenship and chased off their land in the latest bout of ethnic violence that left them with little access to education, medical care or freedom to move around.
Source:: Indian Express