Indonesia has told Australia that most of the migrants stranded on sea seeking shelter are not Rohingya Muslims, reinforcing the claim being made by Myanmar.
Officials in Jakarta have told their Australian counterparts that most of them are Bangladeshi migrants, who are desperately leaving the country to escape poverty.
"They [Indonesia] believe there are about 7,000 people at sea [and] they think about 30 to 40% are Rohingya, the rest are Bangladeshi; and they are not, in Indonesia's words, asylum-seekers, they are not refugees - they are illegal labourers. They've been promised or are seeking jobs in Malaysia," Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told The Weekend Australian daily.
"They said the Rohingya have gone to Bangladesh and have mixed up with the Bangladeshis who are coming to Malaysia in particular for jobs."
Ever since the Thai authorities began a crackdown on human trafficking earlier this month, the crisis started to snowball with thousands attempting to run away from their poverty-stricken nations. Most of the refugees are said to be Rohingya Muslims, who reportedly want to escape persecution by Myanmar, and poor Bangladeshis.
Myanmar has firmly said that the majority of the "boat people" are not Rohingya, an ethnic minority from Western Myanmar.
During talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senior Myanmar General Min Aung Hlaing indicated that "most victims are expected to assume themselves to be Rohingya from Myanmar in the hope of receiving assistance from UNHCR".
Myanmar has been drawing severe global criticism over its handling of the Rohingyas in the country and the latest migrant crisis reflects this.