Bangkok (dpa) – Hollywood celebrity Matt Dillon on Tuesday joined international calls for help for stateless Rohingya Muslim refugees of Myanmar.
Dillon, who visited refugee camps in Sitwe, Myanmar over the weekend, told reporters in Bangkok the situation was very “grim.”
“The kids I saw look really defeated,” Dillon said. “You never want to see kids look like that.”
Dillon, who sits on the board of Refugees International, was moved to visit the camps after hearing a plea from Tun Khin of the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK.
“This a solvable situation,” Dillon said. “It’s not a natural disaster, it’s a humanitarian disaster created by other human beings through fear and prejudice.”
The Rohingya are at the centre of an international humanitarian crisis. Earlier this month, Thai authorities found a mass grave containing the remains of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
The ensuing outcry led the government to crack down on human trafficking networks, stranding thousands of migrants with little food or water off the coasts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Rohingya say they suffer discrimination in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, which does not recognize them as an official ethnic group, and considers them illegal Bengali immigrants despite having lived in what is now Myanmar for several generations.
Many Rohingyas travel by boat or overland through Thailand hoping to reach Malaysia or Indonesia, both Muslim-majority nations. They are often exploited and abused by traffickers along the way.
A meeting in Bangkok on Friday to address the crisis failed to find a solution.
The term of Rohingya was not used at the conference by the majority of participants, after the Myanmar delegation had announced it would boycott the conference if the name was invoked.