The United Nations’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on May 17 expressed his increasing concern about the plight of refugees and migrants stranded in boats off Southeast Asia’s shores.

In a statement released on May 17, Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said the Secretary General has recently had high-level telephone talks with the prime ministers of Malaysia and Thailand about the plight of the stranded refugees, while Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson has contacted senior officials in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

During the talks, the UN’s leaders urged regional leaders to protect lives and uphold international law, stressing the obligation of rescue at sea and the need for the timely disembarkation of migrants.

Ban Ki-moon supports Thailand’s initiative in organising a regional conference in Bangkok on May 25 and calls on regional leaders to attend the event. He stated that the UN is willing to support all efforts to solve the issue.

The UN leader expressed anxiety in the context of a migrant wave, especially ethnic Rohingyas in Myanmar and Bangladesh, who in trying to escape poverty have landed in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand in recent times. Authorities of related countries have provided them food and water but refused to let them come on shore.

An estimated of 8,000 migrant are “floating” on regional shores in unsecured conditions.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) evaluated the issue as a transnational challenge to which no country can face on its own, emphasising that countries in the region must coordinate to solve the emergency.-VNA