Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Kanupriya Kapoor, REUTERS
BANGKOK/JAKARTA (Reuters) — Nearly 800 “boat people” were brought ashore in Indonesia on Friday, but other vessels crammed with migrants were sent back to sea despite a U.N. call to rescue thousands adrift in Southeast Asian waters with dwindling supplies of food and water.
Underlining the hardening of Southeast Asia government’s stance on the boatloads of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar, Thailand’s prime minister warned on Friday that if more migrants arrived they might steal jobs from Thais and Indonesia’s military chief warned they would cause “social issues”.
About 2,500 migrants have landed on Indonesia’s western tip and the northwest coast of Malaysia over the past week.
But two boats that crossed the Malacca Strait from the Thailand-Malaysia side have been turned away by the Indonesian navy, and on Friday another was towed out to sea by the Thai navy.