Four organisations of the United Nations today issued a joint-statement and urged the countries concerned to protect the trafficking victims now stranded at sea.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children (SRSG) made the call to leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
“We strongly urge leaders of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, to protect migrants and refugees stranded on vessels in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, to facilitate safe disembarkation, and to give priority to saving lives, protecting rights, and respecting human dignity,” the statement read.
“We are deeply concerned at reports that boats full of vulnerable women, men and children are unable to land and are stranded at sea without access to urgently needed food, water, and medical assistance. We urge States in the region to protect the lives of all aboard by allowing the passengers on these overcrowded boats to disembark safely” the statement read.
They urgently called upon leaders to make saving lives the top priority by inter alia significantly strengthening search and rescue operations, stopping boat push-backs and measures, helping boats to leave territorial waters, while ensuring that all measures taken are in strict line with human rights standards.
The statement also requested to provide effective, predictable disembarkation to a place of safety with adequate and humane reception conditions, avoiding the use of immigration detention and other punitive measures, and ensure that the human rights of all migrants and refugees are protected, and that all actions in regard to children are guided by the best interests of the child.
They also urged to expand avenues for safe and legal migration and efforts to prosecute traffickers and smugglers for their crimes in full accordance with international standards for human rights.
The statement also mentioned urging to redouble efforts, nationally and through stronger international cooperation, to address 'push factors' and the root causes of refugee and migrants flows, including discrimination, deprivation, persecution, and violations of human rights.
It further appealed to put in place dedicated measures to combat xenophobia and discrimination against any group on the basis of race, sex, language, religion, ethnicity, nationality and national origin, or other status.