Asian countries pushing migrants back to sea

Asian countries pushing migrants back to sea
Thailand turned away a boat carrying at least 300 Rohingya Muslim migrants found adrift in Thai waters Thursday, pushing it back out to sea, the Bankok Post reports.

The decision to push away the boat about 17km off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman Sea in Satun's Muang district is contrary to the government's proposal for temporary camps to shelter Rohingya migrants in Thailand.

However, the Royal Thai Navy said Thursday they provided them with relief supplies before turning them away. Malaysia and Indonesia over the past few days have also pushed thousands of migrants back to sea.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon who is responsible for national security, said the government will wait for the outcome of the international conference on regional sea migrant problems on May 29 in Bangkok before it decides whether to set up temporary shelters for trafficked Rohingya migrants.

Conference participants will include senior officials from 15 affected countries together with representatives from international organisations.

Countries directly affected by the problem and who are invited to the meeting include Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

Lt Cdr Weerapong Nakpradit, chief of the 491 air and coastal unit under the 3rd Navy Region, said, having detected the boat, six trawlers were told to give the weak-looking migrants food and medicine before letting them continue their journey.

The migrants said the boat had engine problems and drifted into Thai waters and that they wanted to go to Malaysia and Indonesia, Lt Cdr Weerapong said.


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