Bangkok lobbies OIC over Rohingya
- Published: 31/01/2013 at 08:40 PM
- Online news:
SONGKHLA _ Thailand has lobbied the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to help tackle the problem of illegal Rohingya migrants being sheltered in the country.
Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told 15 OIC diplomats that the country needed cooperation from the Islamic body and other international organisations to end the problem.
"If possible, we would like to send them back to their place of origin or a third country," Mr Surapong said after leading them on a visit to a temporary shelter for about 100 Rohingya women and children in Muang district in Songkhla province.
An explosion of tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine since June 2012 has triggered an exodus of Rohingya.
More than 1,300 members of the minority group have been detained by Thailand after landing on its shores in recent months.
They are allowed to stay for six months in detention while the government works with international agencies and other countries to find third countries willing to accept them.
Meanwhile, a Rohingya illegal migrant gave birth to a baby boy on an overcrowded boat carrying around 110 people which arrived in Phangnga province, an official said on Thursday.
The boat was sinking when it landed at Surin island off the province.
"Among them there was a new-born baby, aged around a week up to 10 days old," Manit Pienthong, the Khura Buri district chief said.
"They (the refugees) told us a baby was born in a boat. We sent the baby to hospital for a check-up - the baby is fine."
The baby, who weighed three kilogrammes, was returned to his mother and both were taken into the care of immigration authorities, Mr Manit said, although it was unclear what will happen to them next.
Thousands of Rohingya - members of a stateless Muslim minority described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted groups - have fled Myanmar in recent months with many making the perilous sea journey south.
Non-government organisations have voiced concern that an increasing number of women and children are among them.
Nearly 800 Rohingya have arrived on nine separate boats this month in Phangnga alone, Mr Manit added.
Thailand's navy blocked more than 200 Rohingya boat people from entering the kingdom on Wednesday as part of a new crackdown on the refugees, under which they will be given food and water but barred from landing if their boat is seaworthy.
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Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol and AFP