Southeast Asia is facing a humanitarian crisis not seen in recent years as thousands of refugees known as the Rohingya people are fleeing Burma, now known as Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The Boston Globe reports that the mass exodus of the long-persecuted Muslim minority was fueled by three years of attacks by the Buddist majority. In Myanmar, the Sydney Morning Herald adds that the Rohingya are denied the protections of citizenship, forbidden from marrying without government permission, and can be jailed for relations outside of wedlock.
The UN refugee agency estimates that within the last three years alone, more than 120,000 Rohingya have embarked ships fleeing the Buddist regime. It is thought that many of the transients were en route to Malaysia, which has previously settled thousands of Rohingya. However recently, the Huffington Post quoted Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jafaar as stating: "We have been very nice to the people who broke into our border. We have treated them humanely, but they cannot be flooding our shores like this. We have to send the right message that they are not welcome here."
With the possibility of being denied entry into Malaysia, Indonesia, or Thailand, Australia is fast becoming an option for the "modern day boat people". However, Australia’s current immigration policy presents a dilemma. It rejects asylum to those who arrive by boat without a visa. Many global humanitarian organizations such as Doctor without Border (MSF) are asking the Australian government to reconsider their stance on this form of immigration. MSF's volunteers have been active off the coast of Australia rescuing and resuscitating the ocean trapped aliens.