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asian boat crisis

Two migrant boats holding more than 200 people have been rescued in Myanmar’s waters near the border with Bangladesh.

It was the first such rescue by Myanmar which has faced strong criticism for not doing enough to aid those stranded at sea and stem the migrant crisis.

Most are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar, while others are economic migrants from Bangladesh.

More than 3,000 migrants have landed in neighboring Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which have offered aid.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, said the migrants were rescued on May 22.Myanmar migrant boat rescue 2015

Photos posted on the information ministry’s Facebook page showed scores of bare-chested men crammed in the hull of at least one boat.

The posts referred to the migrants as “Bengalis” – Myanmar’s term for Rohingya Muslims – and said the boats were in Bangladeshi waters off Myanmar’s Rakhine state, waiting for more to arrive in smaller vessels.

The government has promised humanitarian assistance to those who have suffered at sea, but ministers have stressed that only verified Myanmar citizens will be allowed to stay.

The rescue came after Myanmar officials met Malaysian and Indonesian foreign ministers, and the US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on May 21 to discuss the situation.

Malaysia also began searching for migrant boats on May 22, a day after PM Najib Razak announced that they would conduct rescue missions.

Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to stop towing boats out to sea and will provide temporary shelter to those who have landed. Thailand only said it would stop rejecting boats.