The Courier-Mail

Refugees targeted at ‘home’

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BANGKOK: Myanmar and Bangladesh, the departure points for thousands of boatpeople, agreed last night to address the “root causes” of a migration crisis at an internatio­nal meeting in Bangkok.

Describing the talks as “very constructi­ve”, Norachit Sinhaseni, permanent secretary to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said all 17 countries at the table had agreed to a document that includes a commitment “to address factors in the areas of (the migrants’) origin”.

Senior officials from across Asia are struggling with the growing problem of desperate people landing on the shores of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, as Rohingya Muslims flee persecutio­n in predominan­tly Buddhist Myanmar, and poor Bangladesh­is crowd on to boats in the hope of finding jobs in other countries.

On the first day of the regional meeting in Bangkok, a senior Thai official called for solutions, saying the influx of boatpeople refugees in South-East Asia had reached an “alarming level”.

In the past month, more than 3000 have landed in the three countries amid a regional crackdown.

Last night Myanmar officials said the country’s navy had found another 727 people crammed on a fishing boat in its waters, with the would-be “Bengali” migrants towed to a nearby island.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama has urged Aung San Suu Kyi, a fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to speak out to protect Myanmar’s persecuted Rohingya Muslims.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, said he had twice discussed the issue with Ms Suu Kyi .

Thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar, where they have been denied citizenshi­p and face strict inhumane laws and rights violations.

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