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Rohingya migrants will steal jobs, says Thai PM

May 15, 2015

BANGKOK -- Thailand's prime minister warnedon Friday that if more Rohingya migrants head to the country'sshores they might steal jobs from Thais. 

Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmarare spirited across the Bay of Bengal by human traffickingnetworks each year, most thought to be heading to Muslim Malaysia. 

But, like Thailand and Indonesia, Malaysia has said it willpush boats full of migrants back to sea. 

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, whose government hasannounced a regional meeting on the crisis for May 29, said hiscountry did not have the resources to look after the migrants. 

"As there are many of them, we cannot look after themproperly. Where will we put them?" Prayuth told reporters. 

"Right now we have to find a place for them to stay. In thefuture, if many more of them come, it will cause a problem. Theywill steal the jobs and livelihoods of Thais." 

Nearly 800 "boat people" were brought ashore in Indonesia onFriday but other vessels crammed with migrants were sent back tosea despite a U.N. call to rescue thousands set adrift inSoutheast Asian waters. 

Following a Thai crackdown on human trafficking, smugglershave abandoned ships full of migrants, many of them sick andhungry, in the Andaman Sea. 

Thailand is frequently used as a transit route by smugglingnetworks that prey on migrants from Myanmar and Bangladeshlooking to escape ethnic and religious persecution.

(Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Amy SawittaLefevre; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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