Thousands of migrants are stranded in the Bay of Begal after being abandoned by their traffickers, with the United Nations declaring a "massive humanitarian crisis".
Authorities in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are being urged to not refuse the stranded migrants despite a local crackdown on traffickers.
But it is feared they may not act, despite many of the migrants - predominantly Rohingyas from northern Rakhine and Burma - being desperate for rescue.
Many of those stranded have been at sea for weeks, desperate for food and water and reports have suggested that the migrants have been forced to begin drinking their own urine.
On one stranded fishing boat, carrying approximately 350 migrants, 10 have died after being refused entry to Thailand.
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Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told the BBC: "They're [Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia] playing a game of marine ping-pong not wanting to take in the Rohingyas.
"This is an urgent humanitarian crisis and the Thais and others seem to be taking a gentle stroll."
Joe Lowry, regional spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said: "Up to 8,000 people are at sea, of which more than 1,000 have landed.
"We believe there are no more departures from the Bay of Bengal because of a crackdown by Thai authorities but those who are still at sea have been there for weeks or even months."
Earlier this week Thailand announced a meeting of 15 countries which will be held on May 29 to address "the unprecedented increase of irregular migration across the Bay of Bengal in recent years".
In a statement, a spokesman added: "Countries of origin, transit and destination must work together to address the problem comprehensively by addressing the root causes as well as all the contributing factors."
The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees has published concerns that 300 people died at sea in the first four months of 2015 as a result of starvation, dehydration and abuse by boat crews.
"We don't allow them in," said First Admiral Tan Kok Kwee, northern region head of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.
"It's a policy matter."
The desperate news comes as Italian minister blasted Theresa May for vowing to force home migrants rescued from killer boats in the Mediterranean.
A deal yesterday proposed that 28 EU countries agree to share the human cost of the immigration crisis - but the home secretary says Britain shouldn't be part of it.
She dismisses pleas for migrants not to be sent home 'against their will' because she says Europe is becoming a 'pull' for the criminal traffickers.
Thousands of people from northern Africa have died after a string of vessels sank despite an international Navy operation.
One group of migrants were adrift for 12 days before being rescued last week.
Now Mrs May has been attacked as 'totally short-sighted' by Italy's EU minister Sandro Gozi.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's totally unfair that 4 countries must bear two-thirds of the total burden in a union of 28 states.
"When you get away from countries where they behead you, where there's a famine and you're starving, I don't believe there can be a rule or a policy that presents a pull factor.
"This is totally short-sighted.
"Only the EU through truly common policy on immigration and asylum can give an efficient response to such a huge problem."