Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The United Nations has urged Thailand to stop deportation of more than 250 Rohingya Muslim refugees after they fled persecution in Myanmar. On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) asked Thai authorities to grant “temporary stay, assistance and protection in Thailand until longer-term solutions are found” for the 259 stateless Rohingya people arrested on November 8 if they are found to have fled persecution. “We're seeking details from the authorities and appealing for them not to deport the group to a place where their lives or freedom could be threatened,” said Vivian Tan. Thai police arrested 259 Myanmar Rohingya Muslims, including 13 children, on a boat en route to Malaysia near the southern province of Ranong. Authorities are investigating whether the detainees had entered Thailand illegally or were victims of trafficking. According to rights groups, more than 10,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the northern Rakhine State in Myanmar on cargo ships since mid-October, with Thailand and Malaysia as their main destinations. Thailand has been criticized for pushing boatloads of Rohingya refugees entering Thai waters back out to sea and holding migrants in overcrowded facilities. Hundreds of Rohingyas have been killed and over 140,000 displaced in attacks by extremist Buddhists over the past two years. Myanmar’s 1.3 million Muslims, who are denied citizenship, are one of the world’s most persecuted communities, a fact that the UN also confirms. They live in apartheid-like conditions and have little or no access to jobs, schools or healthcare. The Myanmar government has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslims.