IOM Calls for Coordinated Response to Save Lives of Rohingya Stranded at Sea

We are once again reminded of the dangers facing vulnerable Rohingya men, women and children traveling by boat and stranded at sea, desperate to reach land. We strongly reiterate that a coordinated response to save lives, inclusive of search and rescue operations and safe disembarkation, is urgently needed.

We must work urgently and collectively to avoid a repeat of the 2015 crisis when thousands of men, women and children faced tremendous challenges in accessing life-saving care and support resulting in loss of life at sea.

Saving lives must be the first priority for the international community and responsibility for search and rescue lies with the States in the region and is regulated by international law and standards.

It is imperative that a lasting regional solution to a regional problem be found, building on the solid cooperation and anticipatory action previously undertaken by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Bali Process to address irregular maritime movements.

We call on States in the region to uphold the commitments of the 2016 Bali Declaration as well as ASEAN pledges to protect the most vulnerable and ensure no one is left behind, particularly at this very challenging time globally.

As in 2020, when again, several boats with vulnerable Rohingya women, men and children drifted at sea for months, IOM now urges the Bali Process Co-Chairs to activate the Consultative Mechanism to convene affected countries and facilitate a timely and regional resolution. IOM further calls on States in the region that are not directly impacted to offer support to those States that must proceed with rescue and disembarkation.

We urge states to continue and expand search and rescue efforts and ensure that landing procedures and reception conditions are safe and humane. Search and rescue must be combined with arrangements for prompt disembarkation to a place of safety.

IOM, along with its UN and other humanitarian partners, reaffirms its support to States across the region to provide immediate assistance to migrants and refugees, and to strengthen the broader response capacity to respond to irregular movements.

We remain ready to support States and ensure the necessary arrangements can be implemented that allow people to disembark in a safe, orderly and dignified manner.


For more information please contact Itayi Viriri at IOM Regional Office for Asia Pacific at Tel: +66 65 939 0934, Email: 

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