Indonesia hosts Asia-Pacific meeting on Rohingya issue

Indonesia is scheduled to host an Asia Pacific ministerial meeting that will discuss Rohingnya boat people who are seeking refugee status, The Jakarta Post reported Tuesday.

The meeting is set to be held from Tuesday to Wednesday in Bali, a resort island of Indonesia. Delegates from around 40 countries in Asia-Pacific region will discuss people smuggling, trafficking and transnational crimes under the Bali Process forum, amid the arrival of Rohingya boatpeople from Myanmar to Southeast Asian countries.

During the two-day "Bali Regional Ministerial Conference (BRMC) III" delegates will discuss the plight of the Rohingya people.
The forum, launched in 2002, is co-chaired by Indonesia and Australia. The Indonesian delegates include Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda and Justice and Human Rights Minister Andi Mattalata, Xinhua reported.

"BRMC III is a collaborative effort of more than 40 countries and numerous international agencies working together on practical measures to help combat people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crimes in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond," the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Thousands of Rohingya fled Myanmar for Malaysia and Thailand in January, allegedly escaping persecution from the military junta. Part of them who survived arrived on the shores of Aceh province.

Initially Indonesia said it would send home those refugees identified as "economic migrants", but later said the Foreign Ministry had agreed to work on the issue at the Bali Process forum.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said a team sent by the government and the UNHCR had been working on verifying the status of the Rohingya people living in Sabang and Idi Rayeuk.

Some 400 Rohingya people are currently living in camps on the western tip of Sumatra after they arrived early this year. Malaysia has also become home to thousands of Rohingya in past decades, with official government numbers reaching 14,300.
The Rohingya issue has affected numerous ASEAN member countries, but they have agreed to use the Bali Process forum as the mechanism to solve refugee issues in the region.

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