News / Asia

UN Urges Thailand Not to Deport Rohingya Migrants

A boat carrying 73 Rohingya refugees is intercepted by Thai authorities off the sea in Phuket, southern Thailand, January 1, 2013.
A boat carrying 73 Rohingya refugees is intercepted by Thai authorities off the sea in Phuket, southern Thailand, January 1, 2013.
VOA News
The United Nations refugee agency is urging Thailand not to deport a group of Rohingya Muslim boat people, saying they could be in danger if they are sent back to Burma.

UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Tan says that the group, which is allegedly fleeing sectarian violence and persecution in Burma's western Rakhine state, may be subject to punishment upon their return.

"We're strongly advocating that they shouldn't be sent back," says Tan. "We're worried they may be punished, because there are rules where if they leave they need to apply for permits, and if they come back without these permits, we don't know what could happen - there might be some punitive measures."

Tan says U.N. officials are meeting with Thai authorities Thursday in an attempt to gain access to the group so it can "find out exactly who they are and what they need."

Thai officials said Wednesday the group of 73 migrants, including women and children, must be deported by land to Burma, but their current status is not known.

The migrants were detained by Thai authorities this week after they were found drifting in a small, overcrowded boat off the resort town of Phuket, well short of what authorities say was their final destination, Malaysia.

Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, says that Thailand should suspend any plan to deport the refugees until the U.N. determines whether they have legitimate claims for protection.

He says Thai authorities, who are reluctant to absorb migrant workers from neighboring countries, must come up with a better policy for dealing with boat people.

"For the first time, Thai authorities have intercepted a boat, filled up not with young Rohingya men seeking work in Malaysia, but families with young children and women," he says. "They are traveling together claiming they are escaping persecution, human rights violations, and violence in their homeland."

Thai authorities do not accept boat people, but instead give them supplies to continue their often dangerous journeys to their final destination.

The result is often deadly. In 2008 and 2009, hundreds of Muslim Rohingya refugees are believed to have died after being turned away by Thailand.

Sunai says the problem is not going away, and that Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations must come up with a new policy to provide protection in coordination with U.N. agencies.

"We want Thailand to come up with a clear policy that recognizes Thailand's international obligations to protect asylum seekers and refugees," he says. "And in this case it is very clear that political violence, communal conflicts and human rights violations in Burma's Arakan state are getting worse and worse, and we expect there will be more Rohingya families traveling by sea in order to seek refuge in Southeast Asia."

The latest group of asylum seekers say there were headed for Malaysia, which has become a common destination for Rohingya refugees. On Sunday, about 450 Rohingya landed in Malaysia after a boat journey that left one person dead.

Rohingya are fleeing Burma's western Rakhine, or Arakan, state, where an outbreak of violence in recent months has killed dozens and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Rights groups accuse Burma's government of systematic persecution against members of the ethnic group, who are considered to be illegal immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jac from: Las Vegas
January 04, 2013 3:36 AM
Perhaps instead of issuing these useless pleas, the UNHCR should focus their efforts on getting other countries not in the region (like the US, UK, France etc) to share the burden and take in some of the refugees? Or is this hypocrisy at its finest.


by: Moha_med from: NY
January 03, 2013 11:20 AM
There are number of Bangladeshi Muslims on the boat. So called right groups,UN agency, media are helping human Smuggling, fueling to southern Thailand Muslim insurgency, reduction of Bengladesh's population exploding. At 1970, Begladesh has 47 million population and now reached to 170 millions. Those Muslims never took any responsible for humanity but for sake of Allah and middle eastern thugs.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid