After increasingly desperate days of rejection from many countries, Rohingya migrants stranded at sea without supplies have a faint ray of hope, as Indonesia and Malaysia will accept them temporarily.
But even the so-called rescue has a major catch: Indonesia and Malaysia won’t actively search the seas for the imperiled migrants, but will only provide shelter if they reach the countries’ shores.
Malaysia’s foreign minister, Anifah Aman, made it clear that the Rohingya migrants will be provided shelter only under the condition that they are resettled or sent back to their homeland with the help of the international community.
Indonesian sympathizers rescued one of the several boats left drifting by smugglers who abandoned the boatload of Rohingya. The migrants were forced to flee Myanmar, which considers them interlopers and officially stripped them of their citizenship. The Rohingya are, essentially, stateless.
The recent developments are a sigh of relief for the global community haunted by the idea of thousands of migrants meeting their end at sea. Previously, both Indonesia and Malaysia created uproar in the international arena as they strictly told their navies to not provide assistance to the stateless Rohingya migrants. The Indonesian government went as far as telling fishermen to let the desperate migrants drown rather than attempting to rescue them.
The Philippines has also offered to help the migrants. Foreign department spokesman Charles Jose told ANC television in a statement, “We have the commitment and the obligation to extend humanitarian assistance to these asylum seekers.”
United Nations officials must be breathing a bit easier after despair over countries refusing help to migrants.
Thailand, however, still refuses to take in the migrants, with their military towing them away from their waters. Despite their unwillingness to provide shelter to the migrants, Thailand has provided the Rohingya food supplies through helicopter drops.
Hopefully, more countries will respond to the UN’s appeal for help and extend their resources and aid to help provide shelter for Rohingya migrants.