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Malaysia orders search and rescue missions


05-21-2015 19:32 BJT

Malaysia has ordered search and rescue missions for the thousands of boat people stranded at sea, while Myanmar prepares to begin talks with US and Southeast Asian envoys on the migrant exodus from its shores.

Malaysia's rescue order is the first official proactive move to save persecuted Muslim Rohingya and Bangladeshi economic migrants. It comes a day after Malaysia and Indonesia said they would end their policy of turning away boats.

An Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman said his country had not made a similar rescue order but the issue was "something that will be discussed".

In the first days as the migrant crisis unfolded, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand drew widespread criticism for refusing to take in boats overloaded with exhausted passengers.

But on Wednesday, Malaysia and Indonesia relented, announcing their nations would accept the migrants for one year, or until they can be resettled or repatriated with the help of international agencies. The policy U-turn was welcomed by the international community.

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