Malaysian PM Najib says very concerned about plight of migrants

A child at a refugee camp at Kuala Langsa, Aceh, Indonesia, on May 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
A child at a refugee camp at Kuala Langsa, Aceh, Indonesia, on May 15, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Friday he was "very concerned with the plight of migrants" flooding to South-east Asian shores, calling it an issue of international importance.

"I am very concerned with the plight of migrants in our region, some of whom have already reached our shores and still others who are trying," he said in a statement.

"This is an issue of international and regional importance. We are in contact with all relevant parties, with whom we share the desire to find a solution to this crisis.

"Malaysia does not and will not tolerate any form of human trafficking. Anyone found to be perpetrating this injustice and contravening our laws will be held accountable."

“We are in contact with all relevant parties, with whom we share the desire to find a solution to this crisis,” he added, without elaborating. The issue was one of “international and regional importance,” Najib said.

Hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh have sought this week to reach South-east Asia, and activists estimate up to 8,000 more may be at sea and at risk of dying of starvation.

But the decision of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand to turn away stricken boats filled with starving migrants has been met with outrage, including from the US and UN.

Najib did not give any indication of a change in Malaysian policy, but said his government was taking “necessary action”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Security Council are taking the necessary actions to deal with this humanitarian crisis,” he said. He did not elaborate.