İrem Uzun –TDO- Malaysia’s defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin has warned that Southeast Asia could “pay the price”of Islamic State supporters seeking to exploit the persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority. He emphasised that ISIS aims to extend its sphere of influence in that region, so that it could use the current crisis in order to exploit members of the Rohingya who were vulnerable and recruit them. “We cannot leave them desperate and wanting, because if they are and they turn to these groups, countries in this region would have to pay the price,” he said.      

Over the past two weeks an estimated 370,000 refugees have fled across the Bangladeshi border to take shelter in refugee camps. With the request of Britain and Sweden, the United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday after the organisation’s human rights chief said that “ethnic cleansing” is taking place in Myanmar. 

Malaysia is already on edge after hundreds of ISIS-affiliated militants invaded the southern city of Marawi in the Philippines, a regional neighbour. In January, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation that violence against the Rohingya had fuelled an outflow of refugees that could destabilise the region, warning that ISIS would infiltrate the group if the violence did not stop.

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