ASEAN needs to set up a special body for refugees to anticipate cases like the Rohingya boat people in the region, an expert has said.

“The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) should concern not only economic issues but also political, cultural and social aspects,” said Makarim Wibisono, an international law professor at Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java.

Makarim made the statement at a public debate entitled “Rohingya Refugees and ASEAN Response” in Surabaya on Wednesday.

He said the Rohingya asylum seekers problem was a humanitarian affair.

“That is in line with the second principle of our state ideology Pancasila. Therefore, we must seek to create an ASEAN community concerned not only about economic relations but also social relations and unity. That is the type of unity we should show to the world,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Makarim urged the government to propose the establishment of a special body in charge of refugee affairs at the next ASEAN meeting.(+++)

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