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Coastal states in Malacca Straits say they will turn migrant boats back

Coastal states in Malacca Straits say they will turn migrant boats back
While the Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) organisation has called on shipping industry to help in the search and rescue (SAR) for thousands of migrants stranded at sea at the north of the Malacca Straits, the littoral nations have taken to pushing the boats back to sea.

As many as 7,000 refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar are believed to stranded in the Bay of Bengal and the Malacca Straits as they fled persecution seeking a better life in countries such as Malaysia.

"Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have decided not to receive boat people, as far as I am aware," Major General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak, spokesman for Thailand's ruling military government, told Reuters.

Despite calls by the UNCHR for a coordinated SAR operation on Tuesday the coastal states would appear to be taking a tough stance.

The Indonesian Navy was reported to have sent one migrant vessel back out to sea on Monday.

The Guardian newspaper meanwhile quoted Malaysia’s deputy home minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, as saying “We are not prepared to accept that number coming into our shores and those people who are already in, we are sending them home anyway.

“I would like them to be turned back and ask them to go back to their own country. We cannot tell them we are welcoming them.”

Where this leaves the commercial shipping industry that traverses the busy waterway remains unclear, but any ship master deciding to recuse adrift at sea migrants could find their vessel in a difficult situation if trying to enter port in the region based on the statements being made.