Did you see Nicholas Kristoff's article in The New York Times last week? He eloquently described the plight of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, who are stranded at sea in cramped, dangerous ships to escape persecution by their home country's religious majority.
As he noted, individual activists have been scrambling to prevent thousands of people from dying—without much help from world leaders:
"Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, a human rights group, said she has been in cellphone contact with two ships full of refugees, and she suspects that there are more farther from land and thus out of cellphone range. One is drifting without engines or adequate food, and she, as a private citizen, has been frantically trying to organize a search-and-rescue effort to save the passengers—so far, unsuccessfully."1
As Kristoff notes, the U.S. could stop this without military action. So why isn't President Obama doing so? Our friends at United to End Genocide have launched a powerful campaign calling on President Obama to take action now. Will you add your name?
Fleeing the threat of genocide, thousands of ethnic minority Rohingya from Myanmar are trapped at sea in crowded wooden boats. With food and clean water running low, their lives are in danger.
Because of our pressure, the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia announced they will accept 7,000 Rohingya fleeing the threat of genocide, and the U.S. is also willing to help with resettlement.2,3 It's an important first step, but accepting victims is not enough—they need to be found and rescued. The Andaman Sea is about to become a floating mass grave, and it's because of the failure of governments, including that of the United States, to do what is necessary.
President Obama should call the leaders of Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, urging them to rescue and shelter refugees. The United States should assist with these rescue operations, and we must also make it clear that the root problem—Myanmar's persecution of the Rohingya—must stop.
Unless the policies of hate end in Myanmar, the crisis will only escalate. We must act now to save those stranded at sea and take the steps needed to protect the Rohingya who remain in Myanmar.
–Anna, Bobby, Corinne, Manny, and the rest of the team
1. "Crisis at Sea," The New York Times, May 14, 2015
2. "Indonesia and Malaysia to Help Muslim Migrants Stranded at Sea," The New York Times, May 20, 2015
3. "U.S. Is Willing to Take in Rohingya Boat People," Time, May 20, 2015
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