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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)