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Malaysia in talks to relieve worsening refugee crisis

Malaysia has launched a series of high-level talks with its neighbours to seek a solution to the deepening refugee crisis in the region.

Up to 8,000 migrants are believed to be at sea Credit: Reuters

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees believes there are up to 8,000 migrants on "boats in the Andaman Sea" trying to reach land.

Malaysian foreign minister Anifah Aman met with his counterpart from Bangladesh ahead of meetings with the Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers in the coming week.

Malaysia is the current chair of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which has been criticised for long ignoring the plight of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Burma.


Myanmar: We are not to blame for migrant crisis

Migrants are seen aboard a boat tethered to a Thai navy vessel today. Credit: Reuters

Myanmar has said it is not to blame for the escalating migrant crisis in the Andaman Sea.

More than 2,000 migrants have arrived in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in recent weeks, with thousands more believed to be currently adrift at sea after tougher action on human traffickers led some captains and smugglers to abandon their boats.

While some are Bangladeshi economic migrants, many of those aboard the boats are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

However, Major Zaw Htay, director of the office of the country's president, told the Associated Press: "We will not accept the allegations by some that Myanmar is the source of the problem."

He also said that Myanmar's government would not attend a meeting called by Thailand on the crisis "if 'Rohingya' is mentioned on the invitation", accusing governments of trying to divert attention from their own human smuggling and slavery problems by blaming his country.

United Nations: '8,000 people on boats in Andaman Sea'

An official for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that up to 8,000 people are on "boats in the Andaman Sea".

UNHCR official Jeffrey Savage said: "We understand there as many as 8,000 or more we don't really know who are still on boats out in the Andaman Sea.

"UNHCR has called on the international community particularly the countries in the region to undertake a massive search search and rescue operation to bring those people to shore, give them the same kind of assistance and humanitarian supports that we giving in this groups."

Migrant boat towed out to sea by Thai Navy

A boat full of migrants has been towed out to sea towards Indonesia and away from its southern islands in the Andaman Sea by the the Thai navy, a witness said. The boat was being towed southwest by Thai navy patrol boat number 911, the witness told Reuters.

Migrant boat towed out to sea by Thai Navy. Credit: Google Maps

The navy was unable to confirm if the boat was the same one it towed out of Thai waters on Friday. Thousands of migrants are adrift in Southeast Asian waters, abandoned by people smugglers in the Andaman Sea following a Thai crackdown on human trafficking.


Thailand's ousted Prime Minister to face charges in Supreme Court

Thailand's former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is to be indicted for negligence over a controversial rice subsidy scheme, the Attorney General's Office said today.

Ousted former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra Credit: REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Yingluck will face a criminal charge in Thailand's Supreme Court, Surasak Theerattrakul, director general at the Attorney General's department of investigation told reporters.

If found guilty, Yingluck would face a maximum of 10 years in jail.

The announcement comes just hours before the country's military-appointed legislature is scheduled to vote in a separate impeachment case against Yingluck for failing to exercise sufficient oversight over the scheme.

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