>> Thailand and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have agreed to jointly introduce a handbook for screening Bengalis from the Rohingya boat people.

Minister, UN agree Rohingya proposal

Published: 8/03/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News
>> Thailand and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have agreed to jointly introduce a handbook for screening Bengalis from the Rohingya boat people.

Speaking after meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said in their efforts to resolve the Rohingya problem swiftly, Thai agencies will introduce a handbook for officials interviewing these people and wanted the UNHCR to supply all the needed information to Thailand so that a proper criteria could be designed for it.

The Burmese government also agreed during the 14th Asean summit in Cha-am that it would take back the boat people if they could be identified as being true Bengalis, one of the 135 minority groups in Burma.

Mr Kasit also asked Mr Guterres how the Rohingya in Bangladesh would be taken care of and what measures the Bangladeshi government had in mind on this issue, as the Thai government would have to make use of them as well in handling the 20,000 Rohingya languishing in Thailand.

The ministry will ask Burmese diplomats in Thailand to help interview the Rohingya, the minister said.

The government has asked the UNHCR to look into the history of the Rohingya and the Bengali people to see how they could be politically separated, added the minister.

After his talks with Mr Kasit, Mr Guterres flew off to Burma yesterday to meet members of the Burmese government and discuss the issue at length.

He also plans to visit some Bengali camps in Burma and offer help to develop the areas heavily populated by the Bengali people.

The purpose of his trip is to increase the amount of land given over to humanitarian space in Burma, to create better living conditions as that would discourage more people from leaving the country and become displaced, said Mr Guterres.

Mr Kasit said the UNHCR had received some financial assistance from the international community to help rehabilitate the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh.

In a related development, Mr Kasit yesterday went to Ranong province to meet state officials there in order to listen to their problems and clarify the Abhisit Vejjajiva government’s policy.

He will meet with Ranong governor Wanchart Wongchaichana today to discuss problems related to human trafficking and illegal labour.

He is making the trip under a government plan to send all 36 cabinet ministers to meet people around the country.

Mr Kasit visited Phetchabun province on March 16 to discuss the Lao Hmong refugee problems and how their suffering could be eased.

He chose Ranong and Phetchabun provinces because they are facing similar problems involving illegal foreign labour and refugees.

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