Malaysia calls for regional meet on migrant influx

Country says it will no longer allow boats containing Bangladeshi and Arakan migrants to land, unless they are unseaworthy and sinking.

Malaysia calls for regional meet on migrant influx

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Malaysia said Wednesday that it will hold talks with Bangladesh and Myanmar to find a multilateral solution to the crisis on its shores.

Following the arrival in recent days of 1,158 illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar, the country has announced it will no longer allow foreign boats to land, unless they are unseaworthy and sinking.

Malaysian Home Ministry Secretary-General Alwi Ibrahim told on Wednesday that Thailand would also be invited to the meet, as in most cases the smuggling of migrants from the two countries was being carried out through the Malaysia-Thailand border.

"In this case, the illegal immigrants were willing to come to Malaysia. But there have been cases where there were promises of employment opportunities elsewhere but ended up [being] dumped here," he said in an emailed response to Anadolu Agency enquiries.

The arrivals follow the May 1 discovery of the bodies of 33 Arakan and Bangladeshi migrants at an abandoned people smuggling camp in Southern Thailand -- over Malaysia’s northern border.

Thai authorities have since transferred 53 policemen based in the southern provinces of Songkhla, Ranong and Satun -- where smuggling of Arakan is widespread -- to inactive posts.

Chris Lewa, the director of the Arakan Project, has told Anadolu Agency that the increased pressure from the Thai authorities on the gangs has forced smuggling camps offshore, with many Arakan Muslims and Bangladeshi now held off the Thai coast.

With the Thai clampdown on trafficking camps continuing, some are now being dumped on Malaysian and Indonesian shores.

Ibrahim underlined  that in the case of the Arakan, "we are sure there are elements of smuggling involved."

A total of 1,158 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar, including Arakan, were reported to have landed on the Malaysian island of Langkawi since May 10, of which 486 were Myanmar nationals and 672 were Bangladeshi.

The head of Malaysia's maritime enforcement agency told Wednesday that "in consideration of the country's safety and security," it could not let any more boats in.

"We have decided not to allow any boats into Malaysia unless they are in a sinking condition. Unless that, we will provide provisions, fuel to [the] boats and send them away," said First Admiral Tan Kok Kwee in a short message.

"We cannot direct them where to go, but we can ensure that they are not entering Malaysian shores," he told.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Mayıs 2015, 12:16