The Irrawaddy

Burma Not Ready to Discuss Rohingya Exodus

A group of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, who arrived in Indonesia by boat this week, sit after arriving at a new shelter in Lhoksukon, Indonesia's Aceh Province, May 13, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Burma’s deputy foreign minister Thant Kyaw told Voice of America (Burmese Service) on Thursday that the government was not prepared to discuss the flood of migrants from Bangladesh and Burma’s Arakan State if it was framed as a Rohingya issue.

He told VOA that ASEAN nations had expressed interest in holding discussions but, referring to the country’s Rohingya minority, said that “It will be meaningless to discuss [the issue] since our country and our people do not accept them.”

He added that the government could examine whether the fleeing migrants are Burmese citizens. If they can demonstrate they belong to Burma, he said, the government is willing to consider the issue.

Thousands of migrants are believed to be adrift in Southeast Asian seas, with no country willing to accept them—a situation the UN has warned could develop into a “massive humanitarian disaster.”