Wednesday, 4 February 2009

United States Says United Nations Should Screen Rohingya Migrants

3 February 2009,  source from

United States has resettled some Rohingya referred by U.N. agency
People gathered around tent (AP Images)
Burmese Rohingya who were rescued in Indonesian waters claim the Thai military forced them out to sea without adequate food and water.
Washington — The Obama administration says countries to which Burmese Rohingya migrants have fled should carefully screen them — with the involvement of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) — to determine if they need protection.

The United States considers the Muslim Rohingya people, who live mainly in the Burmese state of Northern Rakhine, to be a religious and ethnic minority that is being persecuted by the country’s military regime.
Burma does not recognize them as citizens, despite their centuries-long presence in the country. The junta also has placed severe economic, travel and other restrictions on the community and forcibly converted some to Buddhism. (See “Burma’s Muslims Are Long-standing Victims of Military Regime.”)

Man looking through wire fence (AP Images)
The Burmese junta does not recognize the Muslim Rohingya as citizens and places severe restrictions on the community.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported February 3 that Indonesian fishermen had found a group of nearly 200 Rohingya men adrift off the northern tip of Sumatra weeks after the men attempted to flee to Thailand in makeshift boats. The survivors told AFP they had been detained and beaten by Thai military personnel before being sent back to sea on boats without motors or adequate food and water supplies.
An additional 650 Rohingya were found in Indonesian and Indian territorial waters in January, AFP said, and nearly 1,000 Rohingya attempted to flee by sea to Thailand in 2008.

Laura Tischler, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, told February 3 that a small number of Rohingya who had been referred by UNHCR had been accepted by the United States for resettlement. The Obama administration also will “consider additional referrals … on a case-by-case basis,” she said.

Along with urging countries to work with UNHCR to determine who needs protection, the United States called on Burma’s neighbors to “press the government of Burma to end its persecution of Rohingya,” so that “those who have already fled can return home safely,” Tischler said.

She added that the Obama administration welcomes efforts by other concerned governments to work together on a common approach for protecting Rohingya people.

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