Rohingya exodus threatens stability of Southeast Asia

Rohingya exodus threatens stability of Southeast Asia
Rohingya migrants pass food supplies dropped by a Thai army helicopter to others aboard a boat drifting in Thai waters off the southern island of Koh Lipe in the Andaman sea.

YANGON - The surge of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar is creating regional friction that could have global implications.

The Rohingya, an ethnic Muslim minority, face discrimination and persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Sectarian violence is forcing large numbers of Rohingya to attempt to escape by boat to neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Thailand, which are increasingly reluctant to accept the refugees. In the US, meanwhile, human rights groups have been putting pressure on Washington to review its conciliatory policy toward the Southeast Asian nation.

Myanmar may again find itself diplomatically isolated if it fails to properly address the plight of the Rohingya.

Fleeing violence

On May 10, around 1,100 Rohingya refugees aboard three tiny wooden boats landed Langkawi Island in northern Malaysia. They were believed to have drifted to the popular resort from western Myanmar.

Some 1,000 Rohingya arrived on the coast of the Indonesian province of Aceh around the same time, while more than 30 bodies, believed to be those of Rohingya abducted by human smugglers, were discovered in Songkhla Province of southern Thailand, near the border with Malaysia.

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