THAILAND will guide away boats with migrants on board found outside Thai waters or accept migrants after their boats enter Thai waters and repatriate them later, while sick boat people will be treated by medical personnel, the Internal Security Operations
Bodies found in Thai waters will be retrieved and identified, said Isoc spokesman Colonel Banphot Phoolphian, and migrants of all nationalities would be treated based on international humanitarian standards.
The spokesman said the measures were standard operating procedure, which was being practised to cope with the trafficking and illegal migrations of Rohingya and other nationalities into Thailand.
Migrant vessels found outside Thai waters will be given navigational guidance in order to prevent them getting lost and entering Thai waters, he said, adding that this procedure had been applied in the case of a large boat carrying some 300 Rohingya outside Thai waters near Koh Lipe off Satun on Thursday.
In related news, Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan said the authorities were considering using two islands off Ranong as temporary shelters for migrants, while the Navy was mulling using another island.
The commander of the Fourth Army Region, Lt-General Prakarn Chomyuth, who is responsible for the entire South, said two inland sites in Songkhla and Satun were also being considered.
But the leader of a Ranong-based network of civic society groups, Nit Uytekkheng, said local residents were against using any area in Ranong as temporary shelters.
‘Too much pressure
from the West’
He also criticised Western countries for what he described as unfairly pressuring Thailand to take better care of the Rohingya and other boat people while they were themselves reluctant to permanently house these migrants.
Nit said a recent study to find appropriate sites for migrant shelters in Ranong’s Kapoe district was halted following strong resistance by the locals. “I am sure that no Ranong residents will accept any shelters to be built here,” he said.
An area Navy commander, Vice Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej, said Myanmar smugglers of Rohinga who boarded the boat found near Koh Lipe on Thursday had dismantled engine parts and the batteries to disable the vessel, before fleeing on another boat before the Navy detected the vessel.
He said this ship had no intentions of entering Thai waters and the migrants were provided with fuel and enough food for two days before the vessel departed at 3am yesterday morning.
The Navy later said helicopters dropped the supplies in the sea because it feared the vessel could have been damaged, or the migrants could be hurt from the heavy cargo dropping onto the vessel. The migrants swam into the sea to retrieve the supplies.
Phuket Gazette reported that more than 100 Rohingya were found on Thursday night on Koh Ree in Mu Koh Surin National Marine Park, northwest of Phuket.
The group – consisting of 89 men, 15 women and two children – was searching for food in the sea when they were spotted by local sea gypsies, who notified park officers.
“Yesterday evening, I received a report from an officer at the Mu Koh Surin National Marine Park that there was a group of people suspected to be Rohingya on Koh Ree,” said Sayan, the commander of the Navy’s Third Area Command.