U.S. official to discuss 'boat people' on visit to Myanmar

U.S. official to discuss 'boat people' on visit to Myanmar

JAKARTA (Reuters) – A senior U.S. state department official will visit Myanmar on Thursday for talks with the government approximately a "boat people" crisis in the Andaman Sea.

Antony Blinken, deputy secretary of state, will talk to government officials in Naypyidaw & Yangon approximately "the root causes that drove these people" to sea, he told a conference in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Wednesday.

Indonesia & Malaysia said earlier on Wednesday they would allow 7,000 migrants from Myanmar & Bangladesh to come ashore, yet made clear their assistance was temporary.

More than 3,000 migrants, fleeing persecution & poverty, have managed to land in Indonesia & Malaysia this month after drifting in the Andaman Sea with little food or water.

Blinken echoed calls by the United Nations & Southeast Asian countries for Myanmar to take responsibility for its part in the crisis. Most of the migrants from Myanmar are members of a Muslim minority known as Rohingya.

"Because of conditions in Rakhine state, they have put their lives in jeopardy & taken to the seas," Blinken said, referring to the western Myanmar state where many Rohingyas live.

"Ultimately they must take steps to address the root causes that drove these people & we need long term sustainable solutions, development, protection of basic human rights if we're really going to answer the problem. This is one of the things we'll be talking to the Myanmar government about," he added.

The Myanmar government regards most Rohingyas as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They enjoy few rights & have suffered violence at the hands of members of the Buddhist majority over the past few years.

Blinken's trip was planned last week, U.S. embassy officials in Jakarta said.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor)

Source: “Reuters”