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US urges Southeast Asian nations to help rescue stranded migrants

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-05-16 09:44

US urges Southeast Asian nations to help rescue stranded migrants

A young Rohingya migrant who arrived in Indonesia today by boat with other Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants, eats inside a temporary shelter at Kuala Langsa in Indonesia's Aceh Province May 15, 2015. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON -- The United States on Friday urged countries in Southeast Asia to save the lives of migrants who are stranded at sea and in need of an immediate rescue effort.

"We remain deeply concerned about the urgent situation faced by thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants at sea in Southeast Asia," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said at a press briefing, who called on Southeast Asian nations to address the emergency "with appropriate speed" and resolve it "through a regionally coordinated effort."

Some 6,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants are believed to be still stranded at sea in precarious conditions in the region.

Rathke said the US noticed that nearly 3,000 people have landed this week in Indonesia and Malaysia, where they are receiving assistance.

"We urge governments in the region to refrain from push-backs of new boat arrivals," he said.

The spokesman added that US Secretary of State John Kerry called his Thai counterpart Thursday to discuss the possibility of Thailand providing temporary shelter for the stranded migrants.

Last year, the number of people leaving Myanmar and Bangladesh by boat was estimated to have climbed to around 53,000. Some 920 migrants are known to have perished in the Bay of Bengal between September 2014 and March this year.

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