Bangladesh res­cues 23 refugee girls from traf­fick­ers

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Twenty-three teenage Ro­hingya girls were res­cued af­ter be­ing brought from refugee camps to the cap­i­tal Dhaka to be sent to Malaysia by air, Bangladesh po­lice said 12 May.

Dhaka po­lice also ar­rested four hu­man traf­fick­ers in­clud­ing a Ro­hingya cou­ple and re­cov­ered over 50 Bangladesh­i pass­ports from them the day be­fore.

Po­lice spokesman Mokhlesur Rah­man said they raided a res­i­dence in the north­ern part of the city and found the teenagers hid­ing in a room be­hind a tai­lor­ing shop.

"They were promised jobs in Malaysia and brought from refugee camps in Cox's Bazar," he told AFP, re­fer­ring to the Ro­hingya set­tle­ments in Bangladesh's south­east­ern coastal district. The girls -- aged be­tween 15 and 19 -- could have been po­ten­tial vic­tims of forced pros­ti­tu­tion, the of­fi­cial said.

"We have filed cases against the four ar­rested per­sons and sent the girls back to their camps in Cox's Bazar," Rah­man said.

Abul Khair, lo­cal po­lice chief of Ukhiya, where Ku­tu­pa­long, the largest refugee camp in the world, is sit­u­ated, said he re­ceived the girls and would send them to their homes in the camps.

Some 740,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims fled a bru­tal mil­i­tary clam­p­down in Myan­mar in Au­gust 2017 and ar­rived in Bangladesh to join another 300,000 al­ready liv­ing in the refugee camps.

Des­per­ate for a bet­ter life and an eco­nomic fu­ture, the refugees in­clud­ing in par­tic­u­lar teenage girls eas­ily fall prey to hu­man traf­fick­ers roam­ing in the over­crowded camps. Thou­sands of the refugees have risked their lives trav­el­ling to Malaysia and Thai­land -- mainly by boat -- when the Bay of Ben­gal is calm be­fore mon­soon sea­son sets in at the end of May.

Bangladesh­i au­thor­i­ties have stopped over 300 Ro­hingya this year alone from at­tempt­ing such per­ilous boat jour­neys on rick­ety fish­ing boats.

Many have also at­tempted to fly to Malaysia and Mid­dle Eastern coun­tries by procur­ing Bangladesh­i pass­ports and travel doc­u­ments.

Jishu Barua, an aid worker spe­cialised in hu­man traf­fick­ing preven­tion, said he dealt with 100 cases of hu­man traf­fick­ing in the camps in the last six weeks.

"But this fig­ure rep­re­sents only a small por­tion of what is ac­tu­ally go­ing on," he told AFP.

Photo: EPA

Refugees in the rain in Bangladesh.

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