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    Call for regional help to deal with Rohingya

                                Flood
    of refugees should be discussed by Asean, NHRC says.


    Ethnic
    Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar deserve the attention of Asean as their
    problems are huge, a panel of the National Human Rights Commission
    (NHRC) says.

    Panel
    chairwoman Angkhana Neelapaijit spoke yesterday after visiting some
    Rohingya people in Narathiwat.


    More
    than 800 Rohingya were found to have illegally entered southern
    Thailand earlier this month to escape alleged violence in Myanmar.
    The news put the media spotlight and public attention squarely on
    them.


    The
    Rohingya are a Muslim minority community from Rakhine state in
    western Myanmar.

    “This
    issue is big. It should be addressed at the Asean level. Myanmar is
    also a member of the regional grouping,” Angkhana said.

    NHRC
    chairwoman Amara Pongsapich visited the Rohingya people with
    Angkhana.

    At
    the same time, Senator Jate Sirataranont urged Prime Minister
    Yingluck Shinawatra to raise the issue of the Rohingya with Nay Pyi
    Taw, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

    “We
    need to find a balance between humanitarian issues
    and security concerns,”
    he said.

    Angkhana
    said the Thai government must also discuss the Rohingya with the
    United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the
    International Organisation for Migration, the Red Cross and
    Unicef.

    Jate
    argued that Thai authorities must send the Rohingya refugees to a
    third, Muslim country as fast as possible. However, as the process
    may take time, he believed the government should set up more
    temporary shelters for them.

    Army
    chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, however, expressed concern about
    creating more shelters for the Rohingya. “We can’t take in too
    many people otherwise problems will arise in the long run. We have to
    take care of our national security,” he said.

    It
    has been claimed there are more than 130,000 Rohingya in Thailand –
    although rights activists have suggested the figure is a fraction of
    that. But no third country has expressed an interest in taking them
    so far.

    Prayuth
    said Thai authorities should only provide humanitarian aid pending
    deportation of the Rohingya back to their homeland, or their move to
    a third country.

    “We
    won’t ignore the humanitarian principles but we also must pay
    attention to our national interests,” he said.

    He
    threatened action against any soldier involved in smuggling the
    Rohingya, given more claims of officers demanding money to
    escort refugees or economic migrants who want help to enter
    Malaysia.

    Ranong
    Tourism Association adviser Nit Ouitekkeng said the number of illegal
    migrants in the province was growing fast and it had caused social,
    public-health, environmental and security problems.

    “This
    means our province’s tourism potential is hurt. We are worried about
    safety problems,” she said, pointing out that thefts – sometimes
    blamed on the refugees – had taken place.


    Source The Nation: