Navy ships from two countries have scoured South-east Asian waters for boats believed to be carrying thousands of migrants with little food or water, and a top US diplomat said Burma needs to shoulder some responsibility for the crisis. That’s something it has been reluctant to do.
Antony Blinken, the US Deputy Secretary of State, said Rohingya Muslims fleeing the predominantly Buddhist nation are risking perilous journeys and putting their lives in the hands of human traffickers because “they are in despair and don’t see a future” at home.
“The root of the problem for those leaving Myanmar (Burma) is the political and social situation on the ground,” Mr Blinken said. “Even as we tackle the immediate humanitarian emergency – that is literally to save and rescue people, bring them back to land, get them the care that they need and treat them appropriately – we also have to get at the underlying conditions.”
More than 3,600 migrants have washed ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand since 10 May, and thousands more are believed to be trapped at sea. The United Nations has warned that time is running out to save them.
Burma’s navy found two fishing trawlers filled with around 200 people during a patrol, while four Malaysian navy ships were searching for boats yesterday, said navy chief Abdul Aziz Jaafar. He said three helicopters and three other ships were on standby.