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Thailand: Missing Persons

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 10 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had discussions with the government of Thailand on the safety and whereabouts of the 126 people from the Rohingya ethnic group recently reported as missing by the United Nations. (260798)

We are concerned by reports of mistreatment of ‘boatpeople’ from the Rohingya ethnic group by the Thai authorities. We have raised the issue with the Thai Government at the highest levels on a number of occasions. Most recently, my noble Friend, the Minister for Asia, Africa and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown, discussed the issue with the Thai Prime Minister during his visit to Thailand on 27 February 2009.

Working with EU partners, and in close consultation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), we will continue to press the Thai authorities to establish the facts and hold those responsible for any wrongdoing to account.

We welcome Prime Minister Abhisit's assurances that the Thai authorities are working with the UNHCR on a regional response to the increasing number of ethnic Rohingya people fleeing Burma. To be effective, any solution must address the root causes of the problem: poor governance in Burma, discrimination, human rights abuse and extreme economic deprivation in Northern Rakhine State.