BANGKOK (DPA) — Diplomats and officials from 17 countries gathered in Bangkok Friday to discuss the ongoing crisis concerning Rohingya migrants.
The Thai government hopes the Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean will provide a framework that could lead to a permanent solution to the crisis.
Among attending countries are Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, which have direct and immediate stakes in the future of the migrants.
The crisis was sparked earlier this month when Thai authorities found a mass grave of mostly Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
The ensuing outcry forced the government to crack down on human trafficking networks stranding thousands of migrants with little food or water off the coasts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The ensuing humanitarian crisis drew international outcry, with appeals and condemnation over the three countries' policy of sending the migrants' boats back out to sea rather then letting them land.
Indonesia and Malaysia agreed last week to give temporary shelter to the more than 7,000 migrants but say they must be resettled by the international community within a year.
The Rohingya say they suffer discrimination in Myanmar, which does not recognize them as one of the official ethnic groups, and considers them illegal Bengali immigrants.
Myanmar has been reluctant to join the regional debate, saying it does not wish to internationalize the issue, and denying that any domestic policy is a contributing factor to the problem.
(Reporting by Cod Satrusayang and John Grafilo)