02/14/2020, 12.25
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Nine human traffickers arrested over capsized Rohingya boat

The 13-meter vessel had at least 138 refugees on board. Over the past two years, 25,000 Rohingya have attempted to leave the camps and 713 have been rescued at sea. The preferred routes are to Malaysia and Indonesia.


Dhaka (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Bangladesh police have arrested nine alleged human traffickers connected to the recent wreck of the overcrowded boat of Rohingya, during which 15 refugees died and many others remain missing. The arrests have taken place in the past two days in the southern district of Cox’s Bazar, where most of the tent cities hosting the refugees are located.

Ikbal Hossain, deputy police commander of Cox’s Bazar, reports the arrested people will also be charged with attempted murder. In total, adds the official, there are 19 suspects in the sights of the agents, including 18 of Bengali nationality.

The boat, loaded with refugees, sank on 11 February off the southern coast of Bangladesh. Just 13 meters long, according to witnesses, it carried a total of 138 people, mostly women and children. The authorities recovered only 73 of them alive.

In 2017, following clashes between the Burmese army and Rohingya armed groups, over 700 thousand Rohingya fled Myanmar to refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. Many attempt, often unsuccessfully, to abandon the overcrowded reception facilities in the Cox’s Bazar district on board makeshift boats. Due to the humanitarian crisis, the routes of the boats to Southeast Asian countries with Islamic majority have reopened: Indonesia and especially Malaysia, a country that hosts one of the largest Rohingya communities (about 150 thousand people).

Police sources report that at least 25 thousand Rohingya have attempted to leave the fields on makeshift boats, going to feed a thriving human market that would be managed by at least 300 criminals active in the camps. Since 2017, 713 refugees have been rescued at sea.

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