U.N. calls for comprehensive response to migrant crisis

A Rohingya child holds a banner during a rally in Indonesia earlier this month.— File PHOTO: AP  

The U.N. on Friday called for a “comprehensive response” to the large scale humanitarian crisis of migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar, of which nearly 2,000 are still believed to be stranded in the perilous sea across the Bay of Bengal.

“At the moment the priority should be saving those people who are at sea but in the long term, obviously, you have to address the root cause of the problem. This has to include efforts for reconciliation in Rakhine State where there have been ethnic clashes and also the issue of citizenship has to be addressed by the authorities in Myanmar,” said William Spindler, spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency.

On Friday, 17 countries, including India, the U.S., Australia, Japan and the regional countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Bangladesh met in Bangkok to thrash out a solution to the crisis even as 2,000 people are still believed to be stranded on the sea. Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to address the “root causes” of a migrant exodus from their shores, but critics pilloried a deal that failed to mention the Rohingya minority at the heart of the crisis. — PTI