Surapong to Myanmar on Rohingya

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul will visit Myanmar this month to seek a solution to the growing problem of Rohingya illegal migrants in Thailand.

  • Published: 1/02/2013 at 06:59 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

His trip is a follow-up to a visit by Jullapong Nonsrichai, an assistant to the minister, who reported no progress after meeting Myanmar government officials last month.

Mr Surapong quoted Mr Jullapong as saying that Nay Pyi Taw was not certain whether the Rohingya migrants arriving in Thailand recently originated from Rakhine state in Myanmar or from Bangladesh.

Thailand urgently wants to find a solution with the migrants' country of origin, as the government has said it would only shelter the 1,400 Rohingya for six months, said the minister.

Mr Surapong plans to discuss the issue with Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin.

Mr Surapong on Thursday led 15 Bangkok-based ambassadors and diplomats from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to visit Rohingya children and women at a temporary shelter in Songkhla province.

"What we want from the OIC member countries is to play a role to help these Rohingya migrants and cooperate with the Thai government to talk with their country of origin to resolve this problem sustainably and help develop [areas where the Rohingya live] because I don't want to see an influx of these people," said Mr Surapong.

He also plans to hold talks with with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee to help verify the migrants' nationality, and to urge the UN refugee agency to help accelerate the verification process.

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Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol
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