Refugee crisis hits Malaysia and Thailand

RESCUED: Asylum seekers sleep at a government sports auditorium in Aceh, Indonesia.
RESCUED: Asylum seekers sleep at a government sports auditorium in Aceh, Indonesia. Chaideer Mahyuddin/AFP

WITH hundreds of refugees arriving on Thailand and Malaysia's shores, and up to 8000 still at sea, the two countries may set up camps to house them.

The Bangkok Post has reported on a proposal by national police chief Somyot Pumpunmuang to establish official camps to cater for the refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The International Organisation for Migration is calling for South-East Asian governments to rescue the thousands adrift at sea.

The boats are packed with refugees who have been abandoned by smugglers following a crackdown on traffickers by the Thai government.

"Up to 8000 people are at sea, of which more than 1000 have landed ... those who are still at sea have been there for weeks or even months," IOM spokesman Joe Lowry said.

Malaysian deputy interior minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said: "This is the first time there is such a big influx of people coming into the country."

Many of the arrivals are Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar who have been described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

Topics:  malaysia refugee thailand

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