Friday, 8 May 2015

300 of an estimated 25,000 illegal migrants die in Bay of Bengal in 2015, says UN agency

UN refuge agency on Friday said more than 25,000 people from Bangladesh and Myanmar lured by traffickers set sail illegally for overseas jobs through the Bay of Bengal in the first three months of the year.

Of these illegal travelers an estimated 300 people were killed during the risky voyages through the rough sea, it said.

United Nations High Commission for Refugee came up with the statement on the heels of discovery of at least 30 graves of migrant workers at abandoned concentration camps run by the traffickers in remote jungle of Thailand.

The bodies of the migrant workers, who were subjected to persecution for ransom, are suspected to be of Bangladeshi nationals and stateless Rohingya from Myanmar. They were died of illness or abuse, said the agency.

Thai police have launched an investigation into the reported trafficking in human and the government closed duty of more than 50 policemen for their inaction over the incidents of brutality in the camps. Four local government officials were also arrested.

“But we also appalled by these deaths. Smugglings networks by sea from the Bay of Bengal area to Thailand and onwards to Malaysia have become increasingly lucrative for smugglers, and increasingly dangerous for their human cargoes,” the agency said in a statement posted on its website.

A UNHCR periodic report estimates that some 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis boarded smuggler’s boats between January and March this year- almost double the number over the same period in 2014.

The agency called for urgent actions from the governments of the countries concerned. It added that the UNHCR members spoke to several hundred survivors of such journeys during the reporting period.

Their accounts signal a shift in how smugglers recruit passengers for the boats. Initial boarding fees are often low and in some cases people are given free-passage on condition that they repay the debt with future earnings in Malaysia, it added.

“We heard of children being abducted off the streets or while fishing, and forced onto boats. People are unaware that money will be extorted from them later in the journey and what started with being smuggled soon turns into trafficking in persons,” it said.

One survivor who spent 62 days in such conditions compared it to a graveyard and said he lost hope of reaching shore alive.

Friday 8 May 2015


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