ARMM ready to accept migrants, boat people


COTABATO CITY: The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Friday said it is ready to extend assistance to Rohingya people who fled Burma should they happen to enter ARMM waters, Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman said.

Hataman said the ARMM joins the international call for governments to show compassion and humanity to the Rohingya people who have fled Burma in the face of massive persecution and human rights abuse.

“As they are trapped at sea and are desperate for help, their sufferings exacerbated by the refusal of other countries to welcome them and provide them with refuge, we must offer them a glimmer of hope for a bright future and a peaceful life,” he said.

“The plight of the Rohingya people reminds us of the plight of our very own Muslim brothers and sisters who were driven away from Sabah, the ‘Halaws,’ who had to flee in the midst of fear and uncertainty, back to the Philippines,” Hataman said, adding that “this displacement also touches a sensitive chord in the life and history of Mindanao Muslims who suffered harrowing episodes of evacuations because of violence.”

He added the migrants have seen too much violence and hostility. “They deserve, more than ever, our sympathy and kindness,” Hataman further said.

With this in mind, Hataman said the ARMM government reiterates its support and solidarity with the migrants.

“We express our willingness to host them in the ARMM. We believe that even with the current conditions on the ground, even with our own experience of migration and internal displacement, there is always room enough for us to show our hospitality and care for them,” he said.

“We commend the Aquino administration for expressing its willingness to provide for the welfare of the Rohingya people. We applaud this gesture of kindness,” Hataman said.

Earlier this week, Malaysia and Indonesia relented on a hardline policy of pushing back the boats, and said their nations would accept the migrants for one year, or until they can be resettled or repatriated with the help of international agencies.

A US team led by Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also in Naypyidaw for talks with Myanmar’s President Thein Sein.

In a Facebook post released late on Thursday, the US Embassy in Yangon said Blinken had “urged the Myanmar government to work with regional partners” in tackling the crisis.



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