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    After Myanmar violence, almost 6,000 Rohingyas arrive in Thailand

    Source Reuters:
    February 07, 2013
    (Reuters) –
    Nearly 6,000 Rohingya Muslims have arrived in Thailand since October, when
    sectarian violence flared in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state and displaced tens
    of thousands of people, a top Thai security agency said on Thursday
    Entire
    communities of Rohingyas are languishing in makeshift camps inMyanmar, without
    access to healthcare or clean water, according to the Medecins Sans Frontieres
    (MSF) aid group, while Thailand has promised humane treatment for the 5,899 who
    have arrived on its shores.
    “Those
    detained will continue to be treated as illegal and given only basic care in
    line with humanitarian practices,” said Dittaporn Sasamit, a spokesman for
    Thailand’s Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC).
    “The
    Foreign Ministry is negotiating with other countries to take them on and is
    seeking (Myanmar) citizenship papers for them so they can move on,” he
    said.
    Myanmar’s
    reformist government has been criticized for its treatment of Rohingyas and its
    poor handling of clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in June and October. The
    Rohingyas came off worst in a statewide spree of machete and arson attacks.
    Many Rohingyas
    arrived in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar as laborers from what is now
    Bangladesh under British rule in the 19th century, grounds the government uses
    to deny them citizenship.
    Most of the
    estimated 800,000 Rohingyas in Myanmar are regarded by authorities as illegal
    immigrants from Bangladesh, which does not recognize them either. The United
    Nations has referred to them as “virtually friendless”.
    Thousands of
    Rohingyas flee from Myanmar each year on rickety boats seeking refuge and
    jobsin Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, but the number has swelled since the
    unrest.
    MSF said its
    relief work was being hindered by accusations of bias in favor of the
    Rohingyas.
    “Repeated
    threats and intimidation by a small but vocal group within the Rakhine
    community have severely impacted on our ability to deliver lifesaving medical
    care,” MSF General Director Arjan Hehenkamp said in a statement.
    Britain’s
    Parliament on Tuesday backed a motion calling for the U.N.-mandated observers
    in Rakhine state.
    Rights groups
    have often criticized Thailand for its handling of Rohingya migrants and its
    deportation process, which leaves many illegal immigrants open to abuse by
    authorities.
    Thai security
    forces discovered almost 1,400 Rohingyas during raids in the south of the
    country last month and 1,752 have been detained for unlawful entry.
    More boats are
    expected to sail from Myanmar in the coming months, according to New York-based
    Human Rights Watch.
    (Editing by
    Martin Petty and Robert Birsel)