Discussions resume on irregular migration in the Indian Ocean

Bangkok, Dec 4 (IANS) Representatives from around a dozen countries, the European Union (EU) and UN agencies on Friday began the second international conference on irregular migration in the Indian Ocean in this Thai capital.

The meeting will take forward the discussions that began in May between the countries in the region to tackle the humanitarian crisis caused by the exodus of thousands of people from Bangladesh and Myanmar in boats owned by human traffickers, EFE news reported.

A significant number of people fleeing on these boats are the Rohingyas, the ethnic Muslim minority group from Myanmar, who live in the country as “stateless” and are victims of an “ethnic cleansing”.

“It’s my hope that today’s discussion will result in concrete and goal-oriented actions that countries can start implementing, not in some distant future, but today and now,” said Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai at the inauguration of the conference.

Don warned it is likely Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas will resume their precarious journeys towards Thailand – that serves more as a transit than a destination – Malaysia and Indonesia.

According to the minister, the solution to the crisis would require promoting well-being in the countries of origin, cracking down on human trafficking networks and attending to people who undertake these dangerous and life-threatening sea-voyages.

Don said the Rohingyas’ right to citizenship was not specifically included in the agenda for the talks but admitted it was part of the problem.

At the conclusion of the talks, the participating members are expected to sign a document containing concrete objectives to end irregular migration.

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