Thailand calls for joint framework to tackle refugee crisis

Thai foreign minister draws attention to necessity of joint action against refugee crisis during regional meeting

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Rohingya migrant women cry as they sit on a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea on May 14, 2015.[AFP]

The Thai foreign minister urges joint position to prevent another “boat crisis” which was prompted by May’s crackdown against human trafficking in the Indian Ocean.

The call for a regional meeting was made by Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai during opening remarks to representatives of Southeast Asian countries who gathered in Bangkok to form a framework to tackle with years long refugee crisis in the region.  

"It's clear that we need an explicit and efficient mechanism to manage and control the negative impacts of irregular migration," Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said.

"The time for promises has passed. Now is the time for action. Therefore, it's my hope that today's discussion will result in concrete and goal-oriented actions that countries can start implementing, not in some distant future, but today and now."

In May 2015, nearly 4,000 people from Myanmar and Bangladesh were abandoned by human traffickers across the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.

Following the crackdown, boat crews began to abuse desperate refugees as killing, beating and being kept in inhumane and degrading conditions.

Ahead of the regional meeting, Amnesty International called on governments of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand to prioritise protection of human rights on their battle with human trafficking.  

Thailand is hosting the second special meeting on irregular migration in the country’s capital before the season open for human traffickers.

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) also urged the governments to make efforts to prevent May like disaster saying that Southeast Asia should open legal channels for migration to end human smuggling.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh are seeking shelter in other South Asian Nations every year. As Rohingya Muslims are subjected to apartheid-like conditions in Rakhine state, refugees from Bangladesh are trying to escape from poverty.

Myanmar does not consider the 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims as citizens and deny all claims over discrimination or persecution against them.

According to Don, the citizenship of Rohingya Muslims is not on the agenda of the meeting.

"No, it hasn't been raised pointedly, but it was borne in the back of the minds of all participants that this is one of the relevant questions."

TRTWorld and agencies