COX’S BAZAR: Bangladesh police prevented dozens of Rohingya Muslims, mostly women, about to be trafficked to Malaysia by boat, authorities said today.
Traffickers had picked up at least 69 Rohingyas from refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, promising them work in Malaysia, police said.
Scores of Rohingya Muslims have boarded boats in recent months to try to reach Malaysia, part of what authorities fear could be a new wave of people smuggling by sea after a 2015 crackdown on trafficking.
An estimated 25,000 Rohingyas crossed the Andaman Sea for Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in 2015, many drowning in unsafe and overloaded boats.
“After getting information from a secret source, our team carried out an operation last night and rescued them,“ police officer, Abul Khair told Reuters, adding that there were 43 women and 11 children. They would be returned to the camps.
Police did not arrest any traffickers.
More than 700,000 Rohingyas crossed into Bangladesh in 2017, fleeing an army crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, according to UN agencies.
Buddhist-majority Myanmar regards Rohingyas as illegal migrants from the Indian subcontinent and has confined tens of thousands to sprawling camps in Rakhine after violence swept the area in 2012. — Reuters