Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to offer temporary shelter and assistance to around 7,000 migrants still believed to be adrift at sea, several hours after a fleet of Indonesian fishermen rescued hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants off Aceh, The Malay Mail Online reports.
The countries have agreed to abandon the practice of towing migrant boats back to international waters, and to offer humanitarian assistance and shelter to the migrants, providing that the international community repatriates and resettles the migrants within a year, as well as provides financial assistance.
Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the countries still had to decide where to put up temporary shelters.
Anifah also said that Thailand agreed to the idea, but that it would have to look into its laws prior to signing the agreement.
The migrants stranded on smugglers’ boats in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca are believed to have been abandoned by their crews amid Thai government’s crackdowns against traffickers, following a discovery of mass graves believed to hold bodies of migrants. Some migrants have been stranded at sea for the last four months.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: UNHCR