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Bangkok lobbies OIC over Rohingya

Bangkok
Post:
Published:
31 Jan 2013

SONGKHLA
_ Thailand has lobbied the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
to help tackle the problem of illegal Rohingya migrants being
sheltered in the country.

Foreign
Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told 15 OIC diplomats that the
country needed cooperation from the Islamic body and other
international organisations to end the problem.


“If
possible, we would like to send them back to their place of origin or
a third country,” Mr Surapong said after leading them on a visit
to a temporary shelter for about 100 Rohingya women and children in
Muang district in Songkhla province.

An
explosion of tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities in
Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine since June 2012 has triggered an
exodus of Rohingya.

More
than 1,300 members of the minority group have been detained by
Thailand after landing on its shores in recent months.

They
are allowed to stay for six months in detention while the government
works with international agencies and other countries to find third
countries willing to accept them.

Meanwhile,
a Rohingya illegal migrant gave birth to a baby boy on an overcrowded
boat carrying around 110 people which arrived in Phangnga province,
an official said on Thursday.

The
boat was sinking when it landed at Surin island off the province.

“Among
them there was a new-born baby, aged around a week up to 10 days
old,” Manit Pienthong, the Khura Buri district chief said.

“They
(the refugees) told us a baby was born in a boat. We sent the baby to
hospital for a check-up – the baby is fine.”

The
baby, who weighed three kilogrammes, was returned to his mother and
both were taken into the care of immigration authorities, Mr Manit
said, although it was unclear what will happen to them next.

Thousands
of Rohingya – members of a stateless Muslim minority described by the
UN as one of the world’s most persecuted groups – have fled Myanmar
in recent months with many making the perilous sea journey south.

Non-government
organisations have voiced concern that an increasing number of women
and children are among them.

Nearly
800 Rohingya have arrived on nine separate boats this month in
Phangnga alone, Mr Manit added.

Thailand’s
navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the
kingdom on Wednesday as part of a new crackdown on the refugees,
under which they will be given food and water but barred from landing
if their boat is seaworthy.