'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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The United States is willing to take in Rohingya refugees as
part of international efforts to cope with Southeast Asia’s stranded boat
people, the State Department has said. Spokeswoman Marie Harf on Wednesday said that the US is
prepared to take a leading role in any multi-country effort, organised by the
United Nations refugee agency, to resettle the most vulnerable refugees.
In the past three weeks, more than 3,000 people Rohingya
Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar and Bangladeshis trying to escape
poverty have landed in overcrowded boats on the shores of various Southeast
Asian countries. Aid groups say thousands more are stranded at sea after
human smugglers abandoned their boats because of a crackdown by authorities.
Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand have been reluctant to let
the Rohingya in and have turned boats full of hungry, thirsty people away, because
they fear a flood of unwanted migrants. But yesterday, they relented. Harf welcomed the governments’ decision “to uphold their
responsibilities under international law and provide humanitarian assistance
and shelter to 7,000 vulnerable migrants.”
The US would consider requests from the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees and International Organisation for Migration for funds to help
receive and screen refugees as they come to shore. Harf said that since Oct. 1, the US has resettled more than
1,000 Rohingya. Last year, the US accepted nearly 70,000 refugees people with a
well-founded fear of persecution from around the world. “I think the Malaysians and the Indonesians have requested
some help resettling people. We’re taking a careful look at the proposal,” Harf
told reporters in Washington. “It has to be a multi-country effort. We
obviously can’t take this all on ourselves. But we are prepared to play a
leading role in this effort.”
Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will visit Myanmar
today and urge it to cooperate with Bangladesh to help migrants who are adrift.
Harf said he would call for Myanmar to improve conditions inside the country
“The only sustainable solution to the problem is changing
the conditions that let them put their lives at risk at the first place,”
Blinken, the second-ranking US diplomat, told reporters in Indonesia. At least 120,000 minority Muslim Rohingya have fled
sectarian violence and apartheid-like conditions in predominantly Buddhist
Myanmar in the past three years. Myanmar officials refer to the group as
“Bengalis” and insist they have immigrated illegally from Bangladesh, even
though most have lived in the country for generations.