UN Security Council to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh to study Rohingya crisis

by Linda Olson April 5, 2018, 0:36
UN Security Council to visit Myanmar, Bangladesh to study Rohingya crisis

A boat carrying dozens of Rohingya from Myanmar arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday and the members of the stateless Muslim minority will be allowed to enter the country, authorities said.

The vessel carrying 56 people was intercepted by Malaysian maritime authorities near the northwestern island of Langkawi, said navy chief Tan Sri Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin.

Experts and dignitaries from Bangladesh and several other countries as well as different global organizations made the call in the "Dhaka Declaration" that they came up with at the end of the conference, outlining measures to find sustainable solutions to the ongoing Rohingya crisis.

Of the 56, 19 are men, 18 women, 11 girls and eight boys.

"[MMEA] provided early aid such as food, water and medicine", said North Regional Director Adm. Rozali Mohammed Said.

"But I think it has to be the Myanmar government and Myanmar apparatus who would be saying this to the refugees themselves and I think if the first batch of refugees chose to come and they can see for themselves that it's safe for them to return, then, you know, word of mouth will go to the rest and then they would come". "We will continue to support the government's efforts to ensure a safe and dignified life for the displaced Rohingya families and host communities".

"The initial report said they were docking near Koh Lanta this morning to avoid the storm", he was quoted as saying by AFP, referring to the Thai island popular with tourists.

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About 50 families from remote hill and forest areas on the Bangladesh side, attracted by offers of free land and food, have moved to Rakhine state in mainly Buddhist Myanmar - the scene of a brutal army crackdown which prompted hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee. Almost 700,000 Rohingya have sought shelter in southern Bangladesh since Myanmar launched a brutal crackdown last August.

Fortify Rights said it had documented other boat arrivals of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and Thailand this year.

After the council proposed a visit in February, Myanmar's government said it was "not the right time", but it has now given the green light.

Rozali said there had been no confirmation of the boat's entry into Malaysian waters.

"This is not a problem that will go away on its own", said Matthew Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Fortify Rights.

It had set sail from Rakhine state, the United Nations refugee agency said. Transnational human trafficking syndicates working in concert with various authorities operated numerous boats. Thai authorities confirmed that they sent the boat back out to sea.

In the meantime, Rae says Canada needs to do more help refugees, including those in the region and those who might be able to find sanctuary elsewhere, and it needs to commit to a longer-term humanitarian strategy for the region, as it has in Syria and Iraq. That exodus peaked in 2015, when an estimated 25,000 people fled across the Andaman Sea for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, many drowning in unsafe and overloaded boats.

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