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UN Rohingya conference: EU pledges millions in aid for refugees

سوئس شہر جنیوا میں آج دنیا میں پیدا ہونے والے مہاجرین سب سے بڑے بحران کے موضوع پر ایک ڈونر کانفرنس کا انعقاد کیا جا رہا ہے۔ اس دوران روہنگیا پناہ گزینوں کے لیے رقم جمع کی جائے گی۔ اقوام متحدہ نے مختلف ممالک سے درخواست کی ہے کہ جنیوا اجلاس کے دوران روہنگیا برادری کے لیے کم از کم 434 ملین ڈالر اکھٹے کیے جائیں۔ روہنگیا کی ہجرت کا معاملہ بنگلہ دیش اور میانمار کے مابین تیزی سے ایک بحران کی صورت اختیار کرتا جا رہا ہے۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ادارے برائے مہاجرین کے سربراہ فیلیپو گرانڈی کے بقول، ’’یہ بہت ہی نازک صورتحال ہے اور اس سلسلے میں امداد کی شدید ضرورت ہے۔‘‘ یہ رقم اقوام متحدہ کے ان مختلف منصوبوں پر خرچ کی جائے گی، جو بنگلہ دیش میں رہائش پذیر روہنگیا کے لیے جاری ہیں۔ بتايا گيا ہے کہ اس امدادی رقم سے آئندہ برس فروری تک کے ليے روہنگيا مسلمانوں کو بنيادی سہوليات فراہم کی جائيں گی۔ تشدد کی وجہ سے میانمار سے فرار ہو کر بنگلہ دیش پہنچنے والے روہنگیا کی تعداد تقریباً چھ لاکھ ہو چکی ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش کا شمار ایشیا کی غریب ترین ریاستوں میں ہوتا ہے، تاہم اس کے باوجود اس ملک نے اپنی سرحدیں روہنگیا مسلمانوں کے لیے کھولی ہوئی ہیں۔ اقوام متحدہ کے ہنگامی امداد کے ادارے کے سربراہ مارک لوکوک نے کہا ہے کہ سالوں سے روہنگیا برادری کے خلاف جاری ظلم و ستم، زیادتی اور نقل مکانی کی وجہ سے اسے کوئی علیحدہ یا الگ تھلگ بحران قرار نہیں دیا جا سکتا ہے۔ رپورٹس کے مطابق ہر دس روہنگیا مہاجر میں سے چھ بچے ہیں اور ان میں سے اکثریت کو کم خوراکی کا سامنا ہے۔ بنگلہ دیش میں شہر کوکس بازار میں اور اس کے ارد گرد قائم مہاجرین کے مراکز میں مقیم روہنگیا کو پانی کی کمی اور نکاسی آب کا نظام نہ ہونے کی وجہ سے ان کیمپوں میں بیماریوں کے پھوٹ پڑنے کے خطرات بڑھتے جا رہے ہیں۔

The EU has pledged €30 million as the UN holds a fundraising conference to aid Rohingya Muslims who have fled Myanmar. More than 600,000 Rohingya have escaped to Bangladesh amid persecution at home. The European Commission on Monday promised to give €30 million ($35 million) as the United Nations opened a fundraising conference in Geneva that aims to secure some ... Read More »

Malaysia slams Myanmar over Rohingya ‘genocide’

Malaysia has accused Myanmar of committing "genocide" against Rohingya Muslims. The bloody crackdown is quickly gaining a regional dimension. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday called on the world to prevent an unfolding "genocide" carried out by Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims, as a vicious crackdown triggers an exodus of the persecuted ethnic minority. "Please do something. The UN do something. The world cannot sit and watch genocide taking place," Najib told a crowd of several thousand supporters and Rohingya refugees at a rally in Kuala Lumpur. Razak took direct aim at Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and her new government for not doing enough as reports pour in that Myanmar's army is raping, murdering and torturing Rohingya in the western Rakhine state. "What's the use of Aung San Suu Kyi having a Nobel Prize?" asked the leader of the Muslim majority nation. "We want to tell Aung San Suu Kyi, enough is enough ... We must and we will defend Muslims and Islam," he said, calling on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and ASEAN, the 10-country Southeast Asia organization, to act. Stateless and persecuted Several thousand Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh or been internally displaced since Myanmar's army cracked down on the group following an early October border incident in which unknown militants killed nine border guards. Myanmar's army blamed the attack on Islamist Rohingya militants and has rebuffed concerns over the subsequent crackdown as propaganda. Myanmar's 1.1 million Rohingya make up most of the population in the region of Rakhine. They are denied citizenship and suffer from institutionalized discrimination in Buddhist-majority Myanmar despite many of them having lived in the country for generations. There have been repeated reports Myanmar's military has gang raped women, murdered civilians and set ablaze Rohingya villages, pushing thousands of desperate people into neighboring Bangladesh. International observers, journalists and aid agencies face severe restrictions of movement while trying to verify the claims in the area. A top UN humanitarian official in Bangladesh last month accused Myanmar's army of "ethnic cleansing." Tensions rising in Southeast Asia The Rohingya issue has been a major test for Suu Kyi's new administration following decades of military rule. Her unwillingness or inability to do anything about the unfolding atrocities has garnered international criticism that she has done too little to address the plight of the Rohingya communities. But there is also recognition her administration is somewhat limited given the army still holds ministries responsible for security. Systemic discrimination and previous bouts of inter-communal violence between Myanmar's Buddhists and Rohingya sent waves of refugees to neighboring countries. There are more than 50,000 Rohingya in Malaysia, where critics point out that they face discrimination and live on the margins of society. Some observers say Razak is using the Rohingya issue to distract away from a financial corruption scandal. Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya has gained a regional dimension as Indonesia and Bangladesh also call on the international community to take action. Several protests have been held in Indonesia, and last weekend authorities there arrested two militants allegedly planning an attack on Myanmar's embassy in Jakarta. Over the past several years the treatment against Rohingya has become a major issue across the Islamic world Earlier this week the United States' top diplomat for East Asia, Daniel Russel, warned that continued violence against the Rohingya threatened to incite jihadist extremism in Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh. He also urged Malaysia and Indonesia to avoid stoking religious passion over the issue by organizing protests.

Malaysia has accused Myanmar of committing “genocide” against Rohingya Muslims. The bloody crackdown is quickly gaining a regional dimension. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Sunday called on the world to prevent an unfolding “genocide” carried out by Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims, as a vicious crackdown triggers an exodus of the persecuted ethnic minority. “Please do something. The UN do ... Read More »

New mass graves discovered near Malaysian-Thai border

Mass graves with at least 24 human bodies have been unearthed along the Thai-Malaysian border in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis. The skeletons are likely to be of human trafficking victims, said Malaysian Police. Police found the corpses on Saturday in the Bukit Wang Burma area near Malaysia's border with Thailand. The heavily forested border area is frequently used by traffickers seeking to smuggle Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims - a persecuted minority in Myanmar - to Southeast Asia by boat. In May, Malaysian authorities discovered over a hundred bodies in mass graves near camps run by people smugglers in the country's north. The finding came after 26 bodies were exhumed from trafficking camps in neighboring Thailand. "Following on from the operation in which we found … bodies of illegal immigrants, 24 more bodies have been found and dug up," the police said in a statement on Saturday, adding that it had sent the remains to medical experts for examination. It is not immediately clear whether the bodies are those of Rohingya Mulims. "It is believed that heavy rain has eroded the graves," Shafie Isamil, police chief of the Malaysian state of Perlis, was quoted as saying by the state news agency, Bernama. The refugee crisis in Southeast Asia has flared over the past few months following a crackdown on human traffickers by Thai authorities. In May, several abandoned boats carrying more than 1,000 people washed to shore on the Malaysian island of Langkawi, near Thailand. In reaction to increasing international pressure, Malaysia and Indonesia promised they would no longer be pushing back migrant vessels seeking to reach their shores.

Mass graves with at least 24 human bodies have been unearthed along the Thai-Malaysian border in the northern Malaysian state of Perlis. The skeletons are likely to be of human trafficking victims, said Malaysian Police. Police found the corpses on Saturday in the Bukit Wang Burma area near Malaysia’s border with Thailand. The heavily forested border area is frequently used ... Read More »

Don’t point fingers says Myanmar at migrant summit

Delegates from 17 governments along with international organizations have met in Thailand to address the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia. Myanmar has taken exception to being blamed for the problem. At an intergovernmental meeting on Friday, Thailand's foreign minister called for Southeast Asian nations to work together to combat the "alarming level" of refugees fleeing anti-Muslim persecution in Myanmar. Seventeen governments from across Asia, as well as the US and Switzerland, along with organizations such as the UN refugees agency (UNHCR), attended the summit in Bangkok convened to address the area's migrant crisis as more than 3,500 starving Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees have come ashore in Malaysia and Indonesia in recent months, with thousands more thought to be stranded on rickety boats at the mercy of human traffickers in the Bay of Bengal. "No country can solve this problem alone," said Foreign Minister Thanasak Patimaprakorn. "The influx of irregular migrants in the Indian Ocean has reached an alarming level," Thanasak added, suggesting that the "root causes that motivated these people to leave must also be addressed." A problem gone largely ignored Observers, however, were skeptical that the one-day meeting which is not being attended by all nations at the ministerial level can solve an issue that has plagued the region for years and gone largely ignored by authorities. Earlier this month, Thailand began a long-awaited crackdown on the human trafficking industry which has forced the boats to continue on to Malaysia or Indonesia to go ashore. On Friday, the Bangkok acquiesced to a request from US authorities to allow American surveillance aircraft to search Thai waters for boats trafficking migrants. Myanmar criticizes 'finger-pointing' Myanmar, where the Rohingya have been stripped of their citizenship and face increasingly strong anti-Muslim sentiment from Buddhist nationals, took exception to being singled out in the international outcry over the crisis. On "this issue of illegal migration of boat people, you cannot single out my country," Burmese Foreign Ministry Director General Htin Lynn said in stern response to a UNHCR comment that Myanmar must accept "full responsibility" for the problem. "Finger-pointing will not serve any purpose and take us nowhere," Htin Lynn added. Malaysia, which recently made the grim discovery of mass graves for would-be migrants within its borders, offered to host a follow-up emergency summit with the leaders of Thailand, Indonesia, and Myanmar. An official from the foreign ministry declined to say when such a meeting would take place, because "it will take time to put together, and we don't know yet."

Delegates from 17 governments along with international organizations have met in Thailand to address the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia. Myanmar has taken exception to being blamed for the problem. At an intergovernmental meeting on Friday, Thailand’s foreign minister called for Southeast Asian nations to work together to combat the “alarming level” of refugees fleeing anti-Muslim persecution in Myanmar. Seventeen ... Read More »

Malaysia admits grave finds

Malaysia has admitted that graves have been found on its side of the border with Thailand amid a crisis over people-smuggling. But, it's dismissed suspicions that the sites are mass graves containing multiple corpses. Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanki Jaafar on Thursday played down allegations that burial sites found in the jungle near his country's border town of Wang Kelian were mass graves. Police forensic teams began examining shallow graves last weekend. Malaysia had previously denied turning a blind eye to people-smuggling deaths and alleged police complicity, despite activists' claims that the Thai-Malaysian border area had long been a transit zone for traffickers. Graves were found on the Thai side of the border in early May. Visiting Wang Kelian on Thursday, Wan Junaidi confirmed earlier reports that police had found 139 bodies wrapped in shrouds, buried singularly and marked by wooden sticks. He said the bodies were wrapped in white cloth "like a Muslim burial." "There is no mass grave. This is one person, one grave," Wan Junaidi said. Police officers detained "The reason for the exhumation is to see whether a crime has been committed, violence was made against those people," he told reporters. He added that the forensic work at the abandoned jungle camps should be completed by the first week of June. Junaidi said only two of 12 police officers detained during investigations into the trafficking were "connected to the graves at Wang Kelian." The pair were suspected of involvement in transporting the migrants, he added, but he did not elaborate. Routes in disarray A Thai crackdown in early May on transit camps through smuggling routes into disarray, leaving thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshis stranded at sea on rickety boats. Migrants had often traveled to Thailand by boat and then overland through the dense jungle into northern Malaysia. Migrants were typically held at the camps until a ransom was paid. Officials of 17 Asian nations as well as from Switzerland, the United States and international organizations will hold talks in Thailand on Friday on the crisis.

Malaysia has admitted that graves have been found on its side of the border with Thailand amid a crisis over people-smuggling. But, it’s dismissed suspicions that the sites are mass graves containing multiple corpses. Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanki Jaafar on Thursday played down allegations that burial sites found in the jungle near his country’s border town of ... Read More »

Malaysian prime minister orders rescue operations to save migrants at sea

ملائیشیا کے وزیر اعظم نجیب رزاق نے کہا ہے کہ انہوں نے ملکی بحریہ اور کوسٹ گارڈ کو احکامات جاری کر دیے ہیں کہ وہ کشتیوں پر سوار غیر قانونی تارکین وطن کی تلاش اور ان کو بچانے کا کام شروع کر دیں۔ بہت سی کشتیوں پر سوار روہنگیا مسلمان اور بنگلہ دیشی مہاجرین ہزاروں کی تعداد میں خلیج بنگال میں پھنسے ہوئے ہیں۔ نجیب رزاق نے فیس بُک پر جاری کردہ اپنے ایک بیان میں کہا، ’’ہمیں زندگیاں بچانا ہوں گی۔‘‘ عالمی دباؤ کے بعد گزشتہ روز ملائیشیا اور انڈونیشیا نے ایسے ہزاروں غیر قانونی تارکین وطن کو عارضی طور پر اپنے پناہ دینے پر رضامندی ظاہر کر دی تھی۔

Malaysia’s prime minister has tasked the navy and coastguard with search and rescue missions to save migrants at sea. The USA, Philippines and Gambia have offered to resettle Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants. In a shift from earlier practices of accepting refugees only who reach the shore or providing assistance to ships found while still at sea, Malaysia’s navy and coastguard ... Read More »

Hundreds of migrants brought ashore in Indonesia

More than 350 migrants have come ashore in Indonesia after drifting for several weeks at sea with little food and water. Most of the migrants are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar. Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants who had been stranded for months at sea landed in the northwestern Indonesian province of Aceh early Wednesday morning, according to search ... Read More »

Migrants in ‘maritime ping-pong’ in Southeast Asia

Despite rising international outrage, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have signaled that they will not allow migrant boats to their shores. Meanwhile, Myanmar has refused to shoulder the blame on the crisis. A boat packed with migrants was towed out to sea by the Thai navy and then held up by Malaysian vessels on Saturday, the latest round of "maritime ping-pong" of migrants being denied access to Asian states, the Reuters news agency reported. The United Nations has called on countries around the Andaman Sea not to push back the thousands of desperate migrants and to rescue them instead. Myanmar: 'It is not our problem' Myanmar's government placed the blame for the ongoing migrant crisis on its neighbors. It also expressed doubt on whether it will attend a meeting to be hosted by Thailand on May 29 aimed at discussing the sea migrants and easing the humanitarian emergency in the Bay of Bengal. Maj. Zaw Htay, director of the office of Myanmar's president, told the Associated Press on Saturday that Myanmar will decide whether to attend the meeting based on what is up for discussion. According to the news agency AFP, Myanmar's government has already rejected the Thai call for regional summit, saying the migrant crisis was not their problem. He said his country "will not accept the allegations by some that Myanmar is the source of the problem," AP quoted him as saying. Also Malaysia's Prime Minister said on Saturday he would seek help from Myanmar to address the "humanitarian catastrophe," AFP reported. Rohingya Muslim, Bangladeshi refugees Many of those on board the boats are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution and oppression in the mainly Buddhist Myanmar. Others are Bangladeshis, who are mainly believed to be economic migrants. Both groups seem to intent on reaching Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country that has hosted more than 45,000 Rohingya over the years but now says it cannot accept anymore. Indonesia and Thailand have voiced similar positions on this issue. Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia ping-ponging migrants Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia have all their navies stationed in boats at maritime borders to push boats away or conduct a so-called "help-on" policy of providing the boats with food and water and then pointing them to other countries. Mahmud Rafiq, a 21-year-old Rohingya man who left Myanmar a month ago, recounted how an Indonesian navy ship had given them food and medicine before towing their boat to Malaysian waters, where they were again stopped, given supplies and taken right back. Boats filled with more than 2,000 desperate and hungry refugees have arrived in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia in recent weeks. The UN refugee agency has reported a surge in departures from Bay of Bengal ports in recent months. Activists say 8,000 people may be adrift on overcrowded vessels.

Despite rising international outrage, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia have signaled that they will not allow migrant boats to their shores. Meanwhile, Myanmar has refused to shoulder the blame on the crisis. A boat packed with migrants was towed out to sea by the Thai navy and then held up by Malaysian vessels on Saturday, the latest round of “maritime ping-pong” ... Read More »

Thai navy turns back boat carrying migrants

The Thai navy has pushed a boat with at least 300 migrants on board back out to sea - after giving them supplies. Authorities in Thailand have decided against a plan to set up official camps for the migrants. The boat, carrying about 300 people on board including young children, was reported to have left Thai waters early on Friday bound for Indonesia. Thai officials said they had fixed the boat's engine and given food, water and medicine to those on board, in accordance with Thailand's policy of "helping on" such vessels. "We gave them ready-to-eat meals," Satun provincial governor, Dejrat Limsiri, told the AFP news agency. "They are now out of Thailand territory ... they will try to go to Indonesia as it seems they cannot get to Malaysia." Noodles dropped in sea The boat had been found drifting in Thai waters on Thursday, with some 300 people on board - mainly from the persecuted Rohingya people of Myanmar. A Thai naval helicopter dropped food packages into the sea, with some men diving into the sea to retrieve them and eating raw noodles as they swam back to the vessel. Limsiri said the migrants did not want to enter Thailand, where they would face legal action and be returned to Myanmar. Some have been targeted by traffickers in Thailand and kept in camps where they are held to be ransomed back to their families. The stateless Rohingya are denied citizenship in their native Myanmar, where they face persecution from both the army and extremist Buddhist mobs who chase them from their homes and lands. Passengers told reporters who drew up in a boat alongside that 10 people had died and their bodies had been thrown overboard. A migrant also told reporters the aim was to reach Malaysia. Abandoned by traffickers More than 120,000 members of the intensely persecuted Rohingya minority have boarded ships to flee to other countries in the past three years. Amid a recent crackdown by authorities on traffickers, many have been abandoned at sea. Even if they reach Malaysia, the Rohingya are unlikely to receive a warm welcome with the country - and Indonesia - vowing they will not be allowed to enter. "What do you expect us to do?" asked Malaysian Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Jafaar in comments reported by the AP news agency. "We have to send the right message," he said, "that they are not welcome here." Malaysian officials were on Thursday reported to have turned away two boats carrying more than 800 migrants.

The Thai navy has pushed a boat with at least 300 migrants on board back out to sea – after giving them supplies. Authorities in Thailand have decided against a plan to set up official camps for the migrants. The boat, carrying about 300 people on board including young children, was reported to have left Thai waters early on Friday ... Read More »

Thailand ‘turning a blind eye to human trafficking’

More graves said to contain the remains of migrants have been discovered in a second jungle camp in southern Thailand, exposing the role the country plays in the regional human trafficking trade, Matthew Smith tells DW. Five graves were uncovered on May 5 in a remote camp located just one kilometer away from a similar encampment close to the Malaysian border, where forensic teams found 26 bodies. On May 1, a joint military-police taskforce discovered the bodies at an abandoned human trafficking camp in the Sadao district of Songkhla province. According to Human Rights Watch, many were buried in shallow graves, while others were covered with blankets and clothes and left in the open. Police reports indicate the dead are ethnic Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh who starved to death or died of disease while held by traffickers who were awaiting payment of ransoms before smuggling them into Malaysia. Traffickers controlling this camp apparently departed into the mountainous jungle, taking surviving Rohingya with them. Following the discovery, police arrested three Thai officials and a Myanmar citizen believed to have links to the people smuggling network. Last year, Thailand was downgraded to the lowest rank in the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons report (TIP), putting it on the same level as Iran, Cuba, Zimbabwe and North Korea. In a DW interview, Matthew Smith, executive at the rights group Fortify Rights, talks about how Rohingya end up being trafficked in Thailand, and the conditions they and other migrants have to endure in such camps. Smith also accuses Bangkok of only giving the impression of combating trafficking without taking responsibility for protecting these migrants. DW: Why has Thailand become a hub for human trafficking? Matthew Smith: The police forces of Myanmar and Bangladesh are driving Rohingya into the hands of traffickers, toward Thailand and Malaysia. An entire population feels their only option is to seek asylum by sea. It's difficult to pinpoint a precise figure of Rohingya trafficked in Thailand but it could be as high as a quarter million since 2012. These human trafficking syndicates are transnational. They prey on the desperation of Rohingya fleeing systematic abuses and they are capitalizing on the willingness of authorities in Thailand to participate in the trade or at least turn a blind eye. Thailand's policy for years now has been to usher Rohingya onward to Malaysia, and authorities have worked closely with traffickers to do that. What does the discovery of the mass grave reflect about the fate of Rohingya in Thailand? Rohingya lack protection everywhere they go, including Thailand. Traffickers in Thailand have been operating in camps that, in some cases, authorities knew existed, and in some cases knew precise locations. It's been reported that Thai authorities have "rescued" some Rohingya survivors of trafficking. In reality, those rescued are very few in the greater scheme of things, and it's not altogether clear what happens to Rohingya who are brought into Thai custody. We know some have been deported back to Myanmar, where they are at great risk of severe abuses. Others end up back in the hands of traffickers. Many are subject to indefinite detention in Thailand. Thai authorities tell us they don't like to use the word "detention" with regard to their treatment of Rohingya, but that's exactly what it is. We've visited these places and there is no doubt that detention is the appropriate term. These facilities are largely ill-equipped, and there have been reports of Rohingya dying in these facilities. Several hundred Rohingya are being held indefinitely right now. How do Rohingya end up in such camps? Their journey begins in Myanmar or Bangladesh. There are more than 650,000 Rohingya displaced in western Myanmar and Bangladesh combined, and upwards of one million in Myanmar living under intensely abusive conditions. This is a population ripe for human trafficking. Most typically an onshore broker in Myanmar or Bangladesh deceives Rohingya to think they will be taken directly to Malaysia for the equivalent of $100 to $200. They board ships operated by transnational criminal syndicates, and they are packed in tightly, like cattle. Some people spend weeks at sea before the boat departs, waiting for an occupancy that far exceeds anything that would be considered humane. Throughout the journey they're denied adequate food, water, and space, and subjected to severe beatings, and sometimes killings. The boats travel to Thai waters where the human cargo is transported to a makeshift jungle camp onshore, where again they're forced to live in cramped conditions. In some cases, Thai authorities have intercepted these "shipments" and detained the Rohingya, only to later sell them to traffickers. We documented one such case that happened back in 2007, which demonstrates that this is not a new phenomenon. Why do the authorities fail to provide appropriate protection? The principal aim of Thai authorities has been to provide a corridor for Rohingya to get to Malaysia. They don't want to take responsibility for a new population of refugees so they turn a blind eye to the traffickers, or in some cases they see it as a lucrative economic opportunity and they participate directly in this modern day slave trade. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been made in the last two years alone. These economic incentives and a deeply flawed refugee policy work in tandem, against the rights of Rohingya. How many of such human trafficking camps are there in Thailand? We have reason to believe there have been an enormous number of camps over the last three years. The traffickers who operate these camps are most commonly Rohingya, Thai, Shan, Bangladeshi, or Malay. They torture their captives, sometimes on a daily basis, until they're able to raise money in exchange for "freedom" - passage to Malaysia where they tend to face more abuses. In the jungle camps they're kept in cramped conditions, and denied adequate food and water. These poor conditions are the most common cause of death in the camps. How come Thai authorities often fail to detect and abolish these camps? The main problem has been a lack of political will to really combat human trafficking in Thailand. Our research over the last two years indicates Thai officials knew the locations of many camps, or at least the general vicinity, and failed to act. We recently suggested to Thai authorities that they use mobile phone frequencies to locate camps. Most of these camps are located in remote jungle areas with limited infrastructure, and there are hundreds of phone calls being placed from the camps by traffickers on a daily basis. In theory, this should make locations easily detectable, but acting on that would require political will, and up to now that's been absent. For the last three years, certain Thai officials have simply wanted the traffickers to move all Rohingya to Malaysia in a timely fashion. If traffickers took too long to move Rohingya to Malaysia, Thai authorities would orchestrate a raid on a camp, but in almost all cases, the traffickers knew about the "raid" in advance and simply moved the camp to a new location or over the border into Malaysia. This way, Thailand has given the impression it is combating trafficking without having to take responsibility for protecting survivors. It's been a horrendous three years for the Rohingya. Officials continue to say that Thai government policies have only reflected the Rohingya desire to travel to Malaysia, but that's a cop-out. People have died or been killed in shocking numbers as a result of those policies. What is the Thai government doing to protect the Rohingya? Thailand still categorizes nearly all Rohingya as "illegal migrants" rather than recognizing their status as survivors of human trafficking, asylum seekers, or stateless persons. In effect, Thailand still denies Rohingya any protection under both Thai law and international law and subjects them to detention and informal deportation. In many cases, "informal deportation" has meant that authorities have handed Rohingya asylum seekers to trafficking syndicates, who in turn tortured them. The indefinite detention of Rohingya asylum seekers needs to end. We've heard a lot about recent arrests of human traffickers and government officials. That's a good sign, and we'd commend Thailand on that, but until it results in prosecutions and convictions, it doesn't mean much. In the past, traffickers have been arrested and then were quietly set free, only to resume their operations. Thailand needs to get serious about investigating and bringing action against human traffickers. While there is increasing recognition of official involvement with the trafficking networks, Thai authorities need to do more to root out traffickers in their own ranks and take action against corrupt and complicit officials. Matthew Smith is a founder and executive director of Fortify Rights and a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow. He previously worked with Human Rights Watch (2011-2013), where he authored several reports on critical rights issues in Myanmar and China.

More graves said to contain the remains of migrants have been discovered in a second jungle camp in southern Thailand, exposing the role the country plays in the regional human trafficking trade, Matthew Smith tells DW. Five graves were uncovered on May 5 in a remote camp located just one kilometer away from a similar encampment close to the Malaysian ... Read More »

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