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Dhaka Tribune

123 Bangladeshis rescued in Thai jungle

Update : 09 May 2015, 10:45 PM

Thai security forces yesterday rescued 32 more Bangladeshis in the Khao Kaew mountain near Songkhla in Thailand. This takes the number of Bangladeshis rescued in the area in two days to 123 and the total of illegal migrants to 149.

Yesterday, local police spotted the 32 people, all males, walking along the edge of a forest in Tambon Tha Chamuang in Rattaphum, hours after 111 trafficked men, including 91 Bangladeshi, were rescued in the same area.

Later the last lot of rescued illegal migrants were taken to the Ban Khlong School before being sent to a temporary shelter at the local district office, where the previously rescued 117 were being kept, reports the Bangkok Post.

Of the 149 rescued so far, the 26 non-Bangladeshis are all Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, Reuters quoted Ekarat Sisen, deputy governor of Songkhla Province, as saying.

Thai authorities yesterday quizzed the first lot of the 117 rescued migrants to determine whether they were victims of human trafficking.

Ekarat Sisen said: “We need to figure out if any of these people are trafficking victims or whether they entered the country on their own. If they are victims of human trafficking we have to hand them over to the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

“Those who voluntarily entered the country illegally will be sent to the immigration police and eventually sent back to their countries of origin,” Sisen said. Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered local authorities to eliminate all migrant detention camps within 10 days after the discovery of 30 migrant graves at abandoned jungle camps in Songkhla on Thursday.

On Wednesday, dozens of southern police officers were transferred for an investigation into human trafficking in the region.

On May 2, police exhumed 26 bodies from a mass grave in the Sadao district in Songkhla province. All are believed to be migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The UNHCR estimated that some 25,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis boarded smugglers’ boats between January and March of 2015.


From the scene

Huddled in a meeting room in Rattaphum district office, the 117 migrants, including three children, brushed their teeth, slept, prayed and ate, waiting to be interviewed, according to a Reuters reporter.

Some Thai villagers came to donate water, rice and fruit to the migrants. Busri Salam, 13, from Bangladesh said that his group disembarked a boat in Thailand and trekked for two weeks in the Thai jungle to try and reach Malaysia.

“My brother is in Malaysia,” said Busri. “I wanted to go there.”

The migrants brave perilous journeys to escape religious and ethnic persecution and poverty. 

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