Australia is on a roll in providing funds for humanitarian aid, as it has recently offered yet another $5 million to help with the migration relief efforts for populations from Bangladesh and Myanmar.
The financial aid coincided with the conference held in Bangkok on the issue of irregular migration in the Indian Ocean. The target of this special event is to formulate both short and long-term solutions for the incredible masses of people migrating.
Since the beginning of March, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia have become temporary homes for more than 3,500 Bangladeshi and Rohingya people.
The governments of the adoptive nations estimated that maybe 7,000 more are still on crowded boats out in the ocean; this week, however, several international agencies came together and assessed that even though the number is closer to 2,700, it is still a worrying situation.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced the new pledge in humanitarian assistance is set to bring relief in the Rakhine State of Burma and in Bangladesh, especially in the Cox’s Bazar region.
The new $5 million funding builds on top of the $6 million announced last week, which will go into helping Burma – totaling to a funding over $20 million offered by Australia since 2012.
Ever since 2000, Australia is one of the most committed nations in the resolving social conflicts and humanitarian issues, providing roughly $170 million. The Australian government works in close partnership with the International Organization for Migration, which helps victims of people smuggling rings from Indonesia.
Various reasons caused the current massive exodus from Bangladesh and Rakhine State; some leave as illegal “labor migrants,” having Malaysia as a destination; others are forced to leave due to severe Buddhist persecution.
In spite of Australia’s long-standing involvement in the region, the Abbott government has received strong criticism for refusing to acknowledge and take action in the current crisis.
Australia was called to admit and process more Rohingyas in order to ease the burden lying on the shoulders of the three frontline countries.
However, after opening the Bangkok conference, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Tanasak Patimaprakorn refused to further criticize Australia’s decisions, adding that more of the 17 countries participating at the conference could get involved in finding a common solution.
Reaching alarming levels, the massive flow of migrants crossing the Indian Ocean to find better lives for themselves needs more than one country to help.
Even as help for the refugees is being deployed, General Tanasak reminded the audience the greater need that needs a solution: combating transnational crime and destroy people-smuggling networks.
After Thailand’s decision to take a crackdown on human trafficking, thousands of migrants were left stranded at sea, as smugglers fled. Last week, in an effort to help the Rohingya, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed to offer them one-year shelter on their territories.
Image Source: TIME