Root Causes Must Be Addressed
UNHCR believes that unless the root causes of displacement are addressed, people will continue risking their lives on smugglers' boats to seek safety and stability elsewhere.
Mr. Needham said that there are a number of processes in motion to address this issue.
There remains an urgent need for affected States to take concrete action to coordinate procedures for rescue at sea, predictable places to disembark passengers safely, as well as adequate reception and screening systems on arrival. People who fled their homes and cannot return due to an absence of protection should be granted temporary refuge and have access to basic rights and services while longer-term solutions are sought.
To minimize deaths at sea, safe and legal channels including labour migration and family reunification programs must be opened up for people leaving difficult conditions at home.
UNHCR hopes that labour migration arrangements could also be put in place for the Rohingya already in labour-importing countries, enabling them to contribute to the economies of their host and home countries.
Next month's Bali Process Ministerial Meeting will be a timely opportunity to make progress on these issues, Mr. Needham said.
A lifting of existing restrictions on freedom of movement and access to services throughout Rakhine state in Myanmar would allow thousands of people to live more normal lives and be less likely to risk dangerous sea journeys, he said.
UNHCR is also watching with interest the Bangladesh Government's plans to list hundreds of thousands of undocumented Rohingya in south-eastern Bangladesh, and the agency hopes that the exercise will result in improved documentation and access to services.
Nearly 170,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis are estimated to have made the dangerous journey from the Bay of Bengal since 2012,
as per the report.