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Kedah: We can't afford to shelter boat people

The Kedah state government wants the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the federal government to overcome the constraints faced by the state in facing a flood of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants.

Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir said the state could not afford to accommodate them as there were too many of them compared to the facilities available.

"The police and Malaysian Immigration Department also have their capabilities but such capabilities will also be challenged if the illegals come in their thousands."

He said the best way to tackle the flood of illegals must be identified by all parties involved in the issue in the humanitarian spirit.

"We do not want the refugees to continue being victimised, killed in the middle of their journey, and what not. We want to help the best we can based on our capability."

Kedah has been facing a flood of illegal Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants since two weeks ago when 1,158 of them were arrested after landing in Langkawi on May 11.

They were then moved in stages to the Belantik Immigration Detention Centre in Sik, Kedah.

The landing took place when Thailand conducted efforts to combat human trafficking syndicates on a large scale after finding more than 30 bodies in a mass grave in the south of the country, early this month.

On Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister, Anifah Aman said Malaysia and Indonesia had agreed to provide temporary shelter for the 7,000 illegals who were believed to be still in international waters, nearby.

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has also asked the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency to channel aid to illegals found near Malaysian waters.

- Bernama

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