South-East Asia leaders urged to protect migrants

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Indonesian fishermen have rescued hundreds of Bangladeshis and Rohingya from Myanmar in May, including these children. Photo: UNHCR

The leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, have been urged by senior United Nations officials to protect migrants and refugees stranded on vessels in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

It’s estimated that 88,000 people have made the perilous sea journey since 2014.

Ana Carmo reports

Around 25,000 migrants, mainly Bangladeshis and Rohingya people from Myanmar, have arrived on boats in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand in the first three months of this year.

It’s thought they left their homes in search of safety and dignity, fleeing persecution, and what the UN has called “abject poverty, deprivation, discrimination, and abuse.”

Nearly 1,000 are believed to have perished at sea due to the precarious conditions of the voyage.

An equal number have died because of mistreatment at the hands of people smugglers.

In a joint statement, the UN and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) urged regional leaders to work with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to respond to what they called the “grave events” that had taken place recently.

Ana Carmo, United Nations

Duration: 49″