Two more Rohingya rescued

Villagers found two Rohingya illegal immigrants on Tuesday, and said more could be hiding out from authorities on a mountain range marking the Songkhla-Satun province border.

The two men were found on a mountain, and reports said they they appeared both tired and hungry.

They were sheltered at a village mosque at Ban Chalung in Hat Yai district, Songkhla.

The two Rohingya said they came in a group of 30 people including children and women, and were dropped by a human trafficking gang after police had rounded up three groups in Songkhla last week.

They were in the jungle for two days, and said others were probably still on the mountain side.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikuli will hold talks with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) over the fate of more than 800 Rohingya rounded up in the past week in Songkhla.

The prime minister said the issue will be sorted out in the meeting between Mr Surapong and the UNHCR.

Thailand decided to shelter the migrants in the southern province on humanitarian grounds instead of sending them back to Myanmar for illegal entry. Their future - whether they will be sent to third countries or deported back to Myanmar - will be thrashed out in the talks, she added.

The prime minister also ordered navy chief Adm Surasak Rounroengrom to tighten coastal patrols on the Andaman Sea to prevent more Rohingya from entering Thailand.

Police arrested 857 Rohingya illegal migrants, including 160 children and 30 women, at the border near Malaysia in Songkhla's Sadao district in three operations last week, while they were waiting to be sent to work in the neighbouring country. The figures exclude the two found in Songkhla on Tuesday.

Immigration authorities planned to sent them back but the plan was under criticism by activists because the many children and women.

Sihasak Phuangketkaew, permanent secretary for foreign affairs, said Thailand will hold talks with Myanmar to help to verify the nationality of the Rohingya before proceeding with the repatriation process.

Thailand intended to send them back to Myanmar once their legal status is verified, he added.

"We have to find a solution for this problem," the official said. "We want to do this in a transparent manner and in compliance with the international law," he added.

Thailand's preference is to send the Rohingya back to their country rather than to a third country, but this needs to be discussed with the UNHCR, he added.

Related search: Rohingya, Myanmar, Thailand

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