Myanmar sends more refugees back to Bangladesh

Myanmar authorities return 159 more human trafficking victims to Bangladesh

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Myanmar sent 159 people, including 16 children, who were found on a vessel near the country's coast last May back to neighbouring Bangladesh following a verification process of their nationalities, according to officials from both countries.

They were among the 528 rescued from Myanmar’s waters, along with another 155 departed back to Bangladesh last month. Authorities said they will continue efforts to verify the identities of the rest of the individuals.

The boat people were transferred through the Bangladesh-Myanmar Friendship Bridge at Ghumdum point along the border, state media announced Tuesday.

According to the reports, the handover process was delayed due to flash floods that affected the Rakhine state and most of Myanmar - over 100 people have been killed. 

A human trafficking crisis emerged in South Asia - thousands of people, mostly the long-persecuted Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, embarked on a perilous journey to sea to find safety in neighboring countries.

Thai found mass migrant graves in several jungle camps along its Malaysian border,  prompting a crackdown against human trafficking in May. Due to the crackdown, many smugglers abandoned the boats crammed with refugees at sea, triggering the regional migrant crisis and a humanitarian catastrophe.

The exodus of Rohingya, described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, has been followed by deadly communal unrest in western Myanmar's Rakhine state since 2012.

According to the Arakan Project, more than 70,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi have left their countries on boats controlled by smugglers since October.

The UN estimates that thousands of migrants are still adrift in the Andaman Sea.

Rohingya Muslims are not considered as citizens by Myanmar because the country claims that they are “illegal immigrants” from Bangladesh, despite having lived in the country for generations.

Bangladesh accepted 501 of those found on-board the boats so far, AA reported. The survivors have been delivered in three phases to Bangladeshi authorities on June 8, June 19 and July 22 by Myanmar.

TRTWorld and agencies