World Bulletin / News Desk
Malaysia and Indonesia issued a joint statement on Wednesday saying they will continue to offer international assistance to 7,000 Arakan Muslims adrift at sea and assist them with "resettlement and repatriation" within a year with international help.
Much anticipated boat people talks finished Wednesday afternoon in Malaysia with the host country agreeing with neighboring Indonesia to shelter the Bangladeshis and Arakan on board for up to one year.
In a joint statement, the two countries said they had agreed to offer temporary shelter to irregular migrants providing the international community takes responsibility for resettling them after one year.
Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anifah Aman said that his country would issue immediate instruction to maritime authorities to provide humanitarian assistance to migrant boats.
The statement added that both countries would continue to help the "7,000 irregular migrants still at sea."
Foreign ministers from Malaysia and Indonesia were joined by the third country at the meeting, Thailand, in strongly condemning people smuggling and human trafficking.
They agreed to resolve the influx of irregular migrants in the spirit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations solidarity.
There was no mention in the statement of Myanmar, where a majority of the Muslim Arakan on board are thought to originate.
On Wednesday, Malaysia denied that the government had pushed hundreds of Arakan refugees away from its shores, to be stranded in the sea.
Aman said it had provided the boats with assistance and the allegations were “news to him,” since Malaysia's stand on the issue has always been to provide the refugees with as much help as possible.
“My instruction is very clear. I’m the spokesman for the government on this issue. Our instructions were to assist these people as we possibly can,” he said.
In a separate joint statement between Malaysian Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his Indonesian-counterpart, Hamidi urged all non-governmental organizations of all races and religions to step forward to volunteer to help the Arakan migrants.
"Even though they are a migrant community that is trying to enter the country illegally, and breaking immigration laws, their well-being should not be ignored," he said, while reiterating that the grace period will only be for one year.
Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia are not signatories to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention that would oblige it to resettle a certain number of refugees.Last Mod: 20 Mayıs 2015, 14:48