Malaysia police scout temporary sites to house boat people

Rohingya protesters praying during a demonstration outside the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to demand an end to discrimination against the minority group, on May 21, 2015.-- PHOTO: EPA
Rohingya protesters praying during a demonstration outside the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to demand an end to discrimination against the minority group, on May 21, 2015.-- PHOTO: EPA

SEREMBAN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian police will start finding places to temporarily house some of the 7,000 boat people from Myanmar and Bangladesh currently stranded at sea.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said his men would work with the other agencies to look for suitable locations for the migrants stranded in the Bay of Bengal and in South-East Asian waters.

"Since the Government has agreed to temporarily house these people, we will sit down with representatives from the other agencies and see where best to house them," he told reporters.

Asked whether they could be housed on an island, Khalid said it would not be ruled out.

"It all depends on whether we have the facilities. We will do our best to assist these people.

On Wednesday, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta agreed to allow the 7,000 migrants to come ashore but with strict conditions.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the international community had to resettle or repatriate the Rohingya and Bangladeshis within a year of them being given shelter and that the offer was only for those currently stranded in the waters off the two countries.

"It is not on open-ended offer as it may encourage more boat people to make their way here," Anifah said.

In Kuala Lumpur, Bernama news agency reported that Mercy Malaysia had started helping migrants at the Belantik detention centre in Kedah.

"We have concentrated our aid on two main areas - health and medical - as well as essential non-food items," Mercy Malaysia president Datuk Dr Ahmad Faizal Perdaus said in a statement on Thursday.

It was reported that 1,158 Bangladeshis and Rohingyas from Myanmar, including women and children, landed illegally by boat in Langkawi, Kedah, on May 10.

Those interested in supporting Mercy Malaysia's humanitarian assistance to the refugees can donate to CIMB Bank (account number 80-0249839-3), c/o Malaysian Medical Relief Society or at Mercy Malaysia's head office.