• Sunday, Jun 07, 2020
  • Last Update : 01:56 am

Philippines offers refuge to migrants trapped on boats

  • Published at 10:01 am May 19th, 2015

The government of the Philippines has become the first in the region to offer shelter to thousands of vulnerable people stranded on smugglers’ boats between the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

According to a report of The Guardian, Manila, a signatory to the United Nation’s refugee convention, has signalled it is ready to take in thousands of migrants who are stranded on Asia’s seas.

Denying a local report which claimed that the Philippines planned to push back boats carrying some 8,000 people fleeing persecution in Burma and poverty in Bangladesh, Herminio Coloma, a spokesman to the President, Benigno Aquino, said: “The Philippines has extended humanitarian assistance to ... boat people and had even established a processing centre for Vietnamese travellers in the 70s.

“We shall continue to do our share in saving lives under existing and long-standing mechanisms pursuant to our commitments under the [UN] convention.”

It would be a long and unlikely journey for the migrants – who are believed to be in the region of the Andaman Sea – to make it to the Philippines on their rickety boats with little food and fuel.

However, the statement raised hopes for a breakthrough in the crisis in which nearly 3,000 refugees and migrants from Burma’s persecuted Rohingya minority group and Bangladesh were rescued off Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

“It is a hopeful sign. We hope the governments in the region would lift their game as well,” said an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) spokesman, Joe Lowry.

“We have been saying for 10 days now [that the governments should allow migrants to land]. We don’t know how many people have perished now.”

Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand have turned away boats, despite the UN’s warning against “floating coffins” in the region’s seas.

And the fate of about 300 people aboard a boat that was pushed backwards and forward between Malaysia and Thai waters last week is still unknown. The boat has not been heard for at least three days now, said Lowry.

Malaysia and Indonesian coastguards could not be reached for immediate comments.

Meanwhile Burma’s main opposition party, led by the Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has finally broke silence on the issue of the Rohingya saying the Muslims fleeing dire conditions in Burma are entitled to “human rights”.

“If they are not accepted [as citizens], they cannot just be sent on to rivers; can’t be pushed out to sea,” said Nyan Win, a spokesman from Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party on Monday.

“They are humans. I just see them as humans who are entitled to human rights.”

Malaysia’s foreign affairs minister will meet his counterparts from Indonesia and Thailand in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday to discuss the migrant crisis, ahead of a regional meeting in Bangkok on 29 May.

The secretary-general’s office of the regional grouping, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), declined to comment. A spokeswoman said the office was “not privy” to ongoing discussions among member states.

50
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail