Indonesia says to halt migrant boats at sea to avoid 'social issues'

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia will prevent boats carrying migrants from entering its maritime territory to avert a flood of others following behind causing "social issues", the military chief said on Friday.

General Moeldoko said the military was carrying out patrols at its maritime borders and would provide humanitarian assistance if boats with migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh were in trouble in Southeast Asian waters.

"We will try to prevent them from entering our territory otherwise it will create social issues," Moeldoko told reporters after meeting President Joko Widodo in the capital Jakarta."If we open up access, there will be an exodus here."

About 1,400 migrants have landed on Indonesia's western tip of Aceh this week, but thousands more remain stranded at sea with little food or water.

Governments in the region have shied away from rescuing the migrants despite a UN appeal for countries to keep their ports and borders open.

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