The countries of Malaysia and Indonesia have offered to take in people stranded on boats off of their coasts. People belonging to a Muslim minority group called Rohingya have been fleeing from their country of Myanmar. They are concerned for their safety. The government of Myanmar doesn’t consider the Rohingya people as citizens even though many of them were born there and have lived there for many generations. It considers the Rohingya to have illegally come from the neighboring country of Bangladesh, and doesn’t offer much support to them. The group has been discriminated against for many years. In recent times, many Rohingya people have left their homes and run away from Myanmar because of terrible living conditions and fear for their lives. Some are getting into boats and sailing off to other nations in the hopes that one of these countries would allow them to live there.
Nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand have been getting large numbers of people showing up on boats, wanting to settle in their nations. It has been difficult for these nations to accommodate all the people. These nations have started turning away boats. Many boats with the Rohingya people have been stranded in the waters with nowhere to go. These boats also have some people from Bangladesh who are trying to escape hardships in their country. Indonesia and Malaysia have now offered to take in about 7,000 people from these boats. A country in Africa called Gambia has also offered to give shelter to the Rohingya people.
Myanmar, known as Burma until 1989, got its independence from the United Kingdom in 1948. From 1962 until 2010, Myanmar was ruled by military governments. In the last few years, Myanmar has been going through changes and is moving towards becoming a more democratic country. Almost 90% of Myanmar’s population is Buddhist, and about 4% is Muslim. Myanmar is known as the “Land of Pagodas”, because there are many pagodas in the country. A pagoda has a distinct bell-shaped top and is often used by Buddhists as a religious building.
Did you know?
The country with the largest number of people following the religion Islam is Indonesia with about 200 million Muslims.
Sources: http://america.aljazeera.com/, New York Times, CIA World Factbook, http://www.unhcr.org/