Indonesia: We've already given too much to help boat people

2015-05-19 12:54
Newly arrived migrants receive medical treatment under a makeshift tent at Kuala Langsa Port in Langsa, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Binsar Bakkara, AP)

Newly arrived migrants receive medical treatment under a makeshift tent at Kuala Langsa Port in Langsa, Aceh province, Indonesia. (Binsar Bakkara, AP)

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Jakarta - Indonesia has "given more than it should" to help hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants stranded on boats by human traffickers, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, a day before she was to meet with her counterparts from the other countries feeling the brunt of the humanitarian crisis.

Foreign minister Retno Marsudi said that at Wednesday's meeting with Malaysian and Thai officials, she will discuss how to solve the migrant problem with help from their countries of origin, the UN refugee agency and the International Office for Migration.

"This irregular migration is not the problem of one or two nations. This is a regional problem which also happens in other places. This is also a global problem," Marsudi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace.

Marsudi said Indonesia has sheltered 1 346 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants who washed onto Aceh and North Sumatra provinces last week. The first batch came on May 10 with 558 people on a boat, and the second with 807 on three boats landed on Friday.

Even before the crisis, nearly 12 000 migrants were being sheltered in Indonesia awaiting resettlement, she said, with most of those Rohingya Muslims who have fled persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. No more than 500 of those migrants are resettled in third countries each year, she said.

"Indonesia has given more than it should do as a non-member-state of the Refugee Convention of 1951," she said.

The crisis emerged this month as governments in the region began cracking down on human trafficking. Some captains of trafficking boats abandoned their vessels — and hundreds of migrants — at sea.

About 3 000 of the migrants have reached land in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, but all three countries have pushed some ships away. Aid groups estimate that thousands more migrants — who fled persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh — are stranded in the Andaman Sea.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  migrants

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