Humanitarian agencies urged countries on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea to allow stranded refugees and asylum seekers to disembark on their shores.
Some 18 local and internationals organisations in a joint statement on Friday urged the states in the region to take urgent collective solutions to address the issue and better share responsibility for hosting refugees.
Hundreds of mainly Rohingya refugees are currently believed to be stranded at sea and Bangladesh has recently allowed 400 refugees to disembark on its shores while at least two boats with refugees have been denied disembarkation and pushed back at sea between Malaysia and Bangladesh in the past weeks.
However, governments in the region have been increasingly reluctant to allow refugees to disembark, partly due to the current COVID-19 context.
The humanitarian bodies said that Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bangladesh are all members of the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime, which encourages a regional and coordinated approach to disembarkation.
In February 2020, the Bali Process's Task Force on Planning and Preparedness reaffirmed its commitment to save lives in responding to "irregular maritime migration" and its support for the non-refoulment principle.
The press statement also called on the government of Myanmar to immediately address the issues that are driving Rohingya to risk their lives on dangerous journeys at sea, including by implementing the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Committee.