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UNHCR statement on Southeast Asia sea movements

UNHCR welcomes the commitment announced today by the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand to resolve the issue of the thousands of refugees and migrants stranded in boats in the Bay of Bengal and off the coast of Southeast Asia. This is an important initial step in the search for solutions to this issue, and vital for the purpose of saving lives.

It is now urgent for people to be brought ashore without delay, and that immediate first aid and other care is provided for all who are in need. We look forward to seeing this happen without delay. 

UNHCR agrees with the Ministers that further action will be needed. This includes addressing root causes. It will need to take into account looking properly at the needs of those in need of international protection. As with other regions of the world where we are seeing large movements of people by sea, countries in the region will need to work together for this to be addressed meaningfully and successfully.

UNHCR itself is ready to work with countries in the region to find solutions to the plight of these people. These ultimately may include returning people to their home countries voluntarily and once conditions allow.


For more information on this topic, please contact:

In Bangkok, Vivian Tan +66 818 270 280

In Malaysia, Yante Ismail  +601 3 352 6286

In Indonesia, Mitra Salima Suryono  +62 818 157 962

In Rome, Carlotta Sami  +39 335 679 4746

In London, Andrej Mahecic +44 78 802 30 985

In Paris, Philippe Leclerc +33 1 44 43 48 50

In Madrid, Maria Jesus Vega +34 670 661 263

In Geneva, Adrian Edwards +41 79 557 9120 

In Geneva, Babar Baloch +41 79 557 9106

In Geneva, William Spindler +41 79 217 30 11