Rohingya Muslim refugees walk toward refugee camps after crossing the border from Myanmar at the Bangladeshi shores of the Naf river in Teknaf on October 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO)
Rohingya Muslim refugees walk toward refugee camps after crossing the border from Myanmar at the Bangladeshi shores of the Naf river in Teknaf on October 5, 2017. (AFP PHOTO)

Thailand sets aside Bt10m for Rohingya amid Asean dispute

ASEAN+ October 05, 2017 17:11

By SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE
THE NATION

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THAILAND has provided Bt10 million for humanitarian assistance via the Red Cross Movement to Myanmar and Bangladesh for hundreds of thousands of Rohingya affected by violence in Rakhine state, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.



Thai embassies in Myanmar and Bangladesh have sent through the International Committee of the Red Cross Bt5 million to each country to help Rohingya who fled to the Bangladesh border or remained in Rakhine state after the violence broke out on August 25, said ministry spokesperson Busadee Santipitaks.

More than 500,000 Muslim Rohingya fled from Rakhine state to Bangladesh over the past month after the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) launched a series of attacks against government security outposts, prompting a heavy-handed military response termed a “clearance operation”, which has killed more than 100 people. 

The international community has raised concerns and criticised de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi for poorly handling the situation and backing the Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, which is forcing the exodus of Rohingya. The minority ethnic group has historically been treated badly in the predominantly Buddhist state, which has refused them citizenship rights. 

While the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has labelled the violence in Rakhine state “ethnic cleansing”, Asean, which includes Myanmar as a member, has supported Myanmar’s government and refrained from addressing the so-called clearance policy.

A scene of diplomatic disarray took place during an informal meeting of Asean foreign ministers late last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. 

Asean issued a chairman’s statement on September 23 to express concern over the Rohingya crisis and support the Myanmar authorities’ efforts to end the violence, Malaysia’s foreign minister responded with a counter-statement to dissociate the country from the group’s statement, saying the Asean chair had misinterpreted the situation. 

“While Malaysia condemns the attacks against Myanmar security forces on 25 August launched by ARSA, the subsequent ‘clearance operations’ efforts by Myanmar authorities was disproportionate in that it [sic] led to deaths of many innocent civilians and caused Rohingyas to be displaced,” Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in his statement. 

Malaysia has sheltered a significant number of Rohingya migrants for years, while the Philippines is now holding rotation chairmanship of Asean. 

Thailand supported the chairman’s statement and joined the group to urge Myanmar authorities to implement recommendations in the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, Busadee said.

She added that Bangkok had also encouraged Myanmar and Bangladesh to join efforts to tackle refugee issues. 

In collaboration with Japan, Thailand will also provide mid and long-term assistance to ensure that a sustainable solution can be achieved to resolve the issue at the root cause, she said. 

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