Rohingya migrants detained in Thailand will be allowed to stay in shelters in the South for another six months.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul announced the reprieve after a meeting yesterday with the security agencies handling the 1,390 illegal migrants, including 200 women and children.
The decision will later be forwarded to Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for final approval.
The government would have to set aside at least 12 million baht to pay for food for the migrants during the six-month period, Mr Surapong said.
During the extended period, the Foreign Ministry would hold talks with international organisations including the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The talks would focus on assisting the Rohingya to seek asylum in a third country, as they are requesting, Mr Surapong said.
Thailand would also discuss with Myanmar the development of Rohingya communities, he said.
"I will also discuss the issue with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the British ambassador to Thailand, because it was the British people who brought the Rohingya to Myanmar in the first place," he said.
The six-month reprieve is a temporary measure agreed on by the security agencies despite Thai law requiring authorities to repatriate illegal migrants as soon as possible, Mr Surapong said.
Thailand still had more than 100,000 refugees to take care of and the cost of providing the Rohingya migrants with shelter and food would be high, he said, adding that the 12-million-baht budget would cover food costs at an estimated 75 baht a person each day.
In Prachuap Khiri Khan, some of about 120 male Rohingya migrants transferred to be detained at the province's immigration office staged a hunger strike calling for an improvement in the quality of food provided to them, said Bu, a Myanmar interpreter who talked to the migrants.
Yusop Towang, president of Prachuap Khiri Khan Islamic Committee, said the committee was coordinating with the immigration officials to help improve the condition of the detention facilities and the food.
The committee would campaign for donations of food, clothing and other necessities for the detained Rohingya, he said.
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Writer: Wassayos Ngamkham and Chaiwat Satyaem