Crisis refugees are 'Bangladeshi workers': Indonesia


Indonesian officials have told Julie Bishop most of the refugees stranded in the region are illegal labourers from Bangladesh.

Indonesian officials have identified most of the people caught up in South East Asia's refugee crisis as illegal Bangladeshi labourers.

Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop has told the Australian newspaper Indonesia believes 30 to 40 per cent of the 7000 people stranded at sea are Rohingya.

Most of the rest are Bangladeshi, Ms Bishop said after a meeting with foreign ministers in Seoul on Friday.

"They are not, in Indonesia's words, asylum seekers, they are not refugees, they are illegal labourers," she said.

"Rohingya have gone to Bangladesh and have mixed up with the Bangladeshis who are coming to Malaysia in particular for jobs."

Bangladesh Association of NSW Vice President, Dr Farouk Iqbal says it's possible some of them are Rohingya with counterfeit passports.

It's common for displaced people to move in and out of Bangladesh, he said.

"If somebody pays a bribe then they can get a national ID and passport easily," Dr Iqbal, who has visited displacement camps with the UN, told AAP.

Around 3000 people have already been pulled ashore in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Rohingyan refugees are being offered temporary shelter for one year.

It's likely most Bangladeshis will be repatriated.

Countries in the region say they'll step up efforts to help Myanmar stop the flow of Rohingya refugees.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says those who advocate for resettlement misunderstand the scale of the problem.

"There's a million Rohingya in Myanmar. The suggestion that somehow resettlement is the answer to that issue, I think completely misunderstands what is happening in that part of the world," he said in Sydney on Saturday.

The comments echo those of Immigration Minister Peter Dutton who was forced to defend Australia's decision not to help settle those caught up in the crisis.

"There are about 20 million people who are displaced around the world. We can help some but we can't help everybody," he told the Nine Network.

Labor's immigration spokesman Matt Thistlethwaite says countries have the right to remove people who are not found to be refugees under UN convention.

"That's the reason why there's a process that's undertaken through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, so people are accessed in accordance with the convention Australia is a signatory to."

Source AAP

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