According to reports, more than 500 Rohingyas made landfall in the southern province of Phang Nga in the past month. Many of them have been transferred to other shelters and camps, which include the Khura Buri Shelter and the Surat Thani Immigration Center.
With the latest arrivals of thousands of Rohingyas, the Thai government has been consulting with international agencies and third countries on long-term solutions to the crisis. Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul announced on January 25 that the migrants are allowed to stay in the country for another six months, during which authorities will try to find a more viable solution including a third country resettlement. The National Security Council has also insisted that Thailand will not set up a refugee camp for Rohingyas.
As critics have alleged that the influx of Rohingya migrants via Thai borders is part of large-scale human trafficking, the government is working to avoid incidents that will further tarnish the country’s image. Thailand is now on the US human-trafficking report’s Tier 2 Watch List.
Tens of thousands of Rohingyas have fled persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the last few decades, with the majority of them travelling to Bangladesh and Malaysia. Dozens are feared to have perished on their boat journeys in the past year as boats carrying hundreds of Rohingyas capsized before reaching their destinations.
According to the UN, some 115,000 people are displaced in Myanmar’s Rakhine State following inter-communal violence in 2012 as the Myanmar government considers them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
As some of the most persecuted minorities in the world, large numbers of boats containing stateless Rohingyas are expected to continue to sail from Myanmar towards Thailand and Malaysia.