Malaysia summons Myanmar envoy as Rohingya crisis worsens
September 05 2017 05:19 PM
Rohingya refugees gather as they expect relief supplies in Kutupalang near Cox's Bazar
Rohingya refugees gather as they expect relief supplies in Kutupalang near Cox's Bazar

AFP/Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia on Tuesday summoned the Myanmar ambassador in a rare diplomatic rebuke in Southeast Asia to voice its ‘deep concern’ over the spiralling violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

A fresh upsurge of violence in mainly Buddhist Myanmar has forced tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees to flee the country for neighbouring Bangladesh, sparking fears of a humanitarian crisis.

The growing crisis threatens Myanmar's diplomatic ties, particularly with Muslim-majority countries in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia where there is profound public anger over the treatment of the stateless Rohingya.

Malaysia summoned Myanmar's ambassador U Sein Oo to the foreign ministry where Kuala Lumpur registered its ‘deep concern regarding the escalation of violence’, warning that it could cause Rohingya refugees to flood into other Southeast Asian countries, a statement from the foreign office said.

‘It would also see more people... become increasingly vulnerable to recruitment by extremists. Both have the potential to greatly impact the security and stability of the region,’ the foreign ministry said.

It was a rare show of disapproval within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a group bound by the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member countries.

The ministry also said that Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has held telephone discussions with his Iranian and Turkish counterparts to convene a special meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the Rohingya issue. The date and venue of the proposed meeting has yet to be decided.

Anifah on Monday told AFP he was ‘dissatisfied’ with Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi's silence on the crisis.

Nearly 125,000 mostly Rohingya refugees have entered Bangladesh since the outbreak of violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, the United Nations said Tuesday.

Bangladesh was home to around 400,000 Rohingya refugees before the latest crisis -- most of them living in already crowded camps that are struggling to cope with the influx.

As of June this year, there are 59,100 Rohingya refugees registered with the UN Refugee Agency in Malaysia.

While Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees, it has been sheltering refugees for decades.

Last updated: September 05 2017 05:22 PM

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