A group of residents in Ranong yesterday voiced strong opposition to calls by rights groups to set up a Rohingya refugee camp in the province.There are more than 800 illegal Rohingya migrants being detained in the southern provinces following three crackdowns earlier this month in Songkhla.
A residents' group in Ranong has been campaigning against any request to establish refugee camps in the province.
Group leader Sucheep Patthong said his group could not agree with human rights advocates who are calling for the government to set up camps for Rohingya refugees in the Andaman coastal provinces, Thai News Agency reported.
"Although we have sympathy for the Rohingya migrants, we're very concerned about the possible adverse effects of setting up a refugee camp here," he said.
His group and its supporters would act against the proposal if Ranong is ever named as a refugee camp location, or if human rights advocates make any further move to push for such a camp.
Mr Sucheep said there are already more than 100,000 migrant workers in Ranong province alone. He said social, security and public health problems had arisen and were being blamed on these migrants.
A growing number of children born in Thailand to migrant parents would also become a major issue, he said.
Mr Sucheep said the government should focus on solving the problems of Thai people before considering migrants' issues.
The National Security Council earlier insisted that the detained Rohingya are classed as illegal immigrants, not refugees.
In Songkhla, local administrative officials and residents from two villages of tambon Chalung of Hat Yai district searched yesterday for Rohingya migrants believed to be hiding in border areas.
Some villagers had reported seeing Rohingya migrants in the forest area of Khao Kaeo mountain.
The group took Muhamud Alla, a detained Rohingya migrant, to help with the search.
Mr Alla was told to shout in his own language for the other migrants to come out of hiding so that they could receive proper assistance.
The group wanted to reassure the migrants that it was safe to come forward to the Thai authorities.
However, the search failed to find any Rohingya people.
The Islamic Committee of Narathiwat, Yala, Songkhla, Pattani and Satun said it has set up a centre to receive donations to help buy necessities for the Rohingya people being held in those provinces.
Songkhla police will issue an arrest warrant for another Myanmar national alleged to have smuggled the Rohingya into Thailand, police said yesterday.
Police have already issued arrest warrants for two Thais _ Prasit Laemlae, a former local politician in Sadao district of Songkhla, and Sarote Kaewmaneechote.
A warrant was also issued for a Myanmar suspect, Jama Nadin, who is accused of smuggling and confining Rohingya migrants.