Malaysia sends four ships to look for stranded migrants at sea 

Migrants stranded

May 22, Kuala Lumpur: The Malaysian government has sent four navy ships to look for stranded migrants at sea. The Malaysian and Indonesian navy chiefs have been discussing ways to coordinate search and rescue efforts.

Earlier on Thursday, Malaysia‘s Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered the navy to take action to rescue the estimated thousands of migrants adrift on boats.

Malaysia and Indonesia said that they would temporarily house migrants who land on their shores. But Thailand, which is a major transit point for the migrants, said it will not shelter them.

“There will definitely be no migrant shelters,” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told parliament in Bangkok on Wednesday, adding that existing detention centres would be used to hold those found to have entered Thailand illegally.

Diplomats said that Myanmar had up to now resisted calls for it to take part in meetings on the stranded refugees, many of them Rohingya Muslims who have long complained of discrimination in Myanmar.

The apparent shift in its position came after Malaysia and Indonesia‘s foreign ministers held talks with senior officials in Myanmar on Thursday.

Western powers and aid groups have also urged Myanmar to increase its involvement, and called on regional powers to do more.

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken also held meetings in Myanmar on Thursday, seeing its president, foreign minister, parliamentary speaker and military commander.

Blinken stressed the need for Myanmar to address the root causes of the migration, “including the racially and religiously motivated discrimination and violence,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a news briefing.

The crisis has seen thousands of migrants, also including Bangladeshis fleeing persecution and poverty at home, pushed back out to sea by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Many now face sickness, and possible starvation, aid groups said.

The Oslo Times and Agencies

 

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