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Thailand gives Myanmar refugees reprieve

Jan. 26, 2013 at 4:04 PM

BANGKOK, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The government of Thailand has given refugees from Myanmar another six months to stay in the country.

The refugees are Rohingya, members of a group ethnically distinct from most residents of Myanmar. They are also Muslims in a predominantly Buddhist country.

Almost 1,400 people, including 200 women and children, have been detained in southern Thailand. Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul held discussions Friday with security officials and then announced the six-month reprieve, the Bangkok Post reported.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could veto Surapong's recommendation, the newspaper said.

Surapong said Thailand will discuss the situation with international agencies, including the International Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, during that period. He said the goal is to find another country where the refugees could settle.

Feeding the migrants for six months will cost the government 12 million baht ($401,000), he said.