Myanmar navy rescues boat with 200 migrants aboard

2015-05-22 15:20
Ethnic Rohingya Muslim men from Myanmar are transported on a truck at a newly set up confinement area situated amid a palm oil plantation at Bayeun. (Sutanta Aditya, AFP)

Ethnic Rohingya Muslim men from Myanmar are transported on a truck at a newly set up confinement area situated amid a palm oil plantation at Bayeun. (Sutanta Aditya, AFP)

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Yangon - Myanmar's navy has found a boat carrying more than 200 migrants, a government spokesperson said on Friday, amid mounting international pressure to tackle a "boat people" crisis that has seen hundreds of migrants land in Indonesia and Malaysia over the past month.

The announcement came after Myanmar's military commander-in-chief said some migrants landing in Malaysia and Indonesia were likely pretending to be Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar to receive UN assistance and were likely from Bangladesh.

"While on patrol in Myanmar waters the Myanmar navy ship 568 found a boat loaded with about 200 Bengalis and another empty boat at sea..." on Thursday, government spokesperson Ye Htut posted on his Facebook page.

'Apartheid-like conditions'

The remarks are sure to spark concern after the US lambasted Myanmar this week for failing to address the cause of the crisis, which observers say stems from Myanmar's refusal to recognise the Rohingya, an ethnic minority group living in western Myanmar, as citizens.

Most of Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. Almost 140 000 were displaced in deadly clashes with Buddhists in the western state of Rakhine in 2012.

Government spokesperson Ye Htut said the boat found on Thursday was from Ranong in southern Thailand.

Thailand is a traditional transit point for those trying to reach Malaysia for work.

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