Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River with an improvised raft to reach to Bangladesh at Sabrang near Teknaf, Bangladesh. File photo/ Reuters
Bangladesh authorities prevented 84 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar from attempting a perilous boat journey to Malaysia, officials said on Saturday.
Police in Pekua said 67 Rohingya Muslims from Kutupalong — the largest refugee settlement in the world — were stopped as they waited to board a fishing trawler.
They included 31 women and 15 children.
On Saint Martin’s, a small Bangladesh island in the Bay of Bengal, the country’s coast guard stopped 17 other Rohingya and five Bangladeshi traffickers before they could board a rickety fishing boat.
Fayezul Islam Mondol, the regional coast guard commander, said they were acting on a tip off.
About 740,000 Muslim minority Rohingya have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since a brutal military crackdown began in August 2017.
They joined another 300,000 Rohingya already living in overcrowded camps in the Cox’s Bazar area following previous bouts of violence.
Thousands of refugees attempt to flee the camps each year in pursuit of better opportunities in countries such as Malaysia and Thailand.
They frequently spend their life savings to embark on dangerous boat journeys they believe will improve their lives, but many fall prey to international human trafficking gangs.
Most attempt the journey before March, when the sea is calm before the monsoon season sets in, but experts say traffickers are now convincing the refugees to attempt the crossing even in rough waters.
“This is a very alarming situation,” Jishu Barua, an aid worker specialising in trafficking, told AFP.
'There is a constant need to go beyond standard human rights principles to improve and promote humanitarian work, and encourage the community to get more involved.'
Bangladesh police have prevented 115 Rohingya refugees from being smuggled to Malaysia in rickety fishing boats, officials said on Saturday, but no suspected traffickers were detained.
Forty-one Rohingya were found in northern Malaysia on Monday, police said, the second group of the Muslim minority to arrive in the country within weeks, while about 200 more are feared trapped at sea. Many Rohingya have been seeking in recent weeks to leave by sea from Bangladesh
The decision was made in order to facilitate intensified sterilization procedures in the area, due to the high density of its population.
Worldwide, more than 788,000 people have been infected and 166,000 have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University. Italy's death toll rose to nearly 11,600 — the highest in the world by far — but its rates of new infections were slowing.
Health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 3,111 new infections have been confirmed over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 44,606. He said 3,703 of those hospitalised are in a critical condition and 14,656 have recovered.
The announcement brings the country's tally of confirmed virus cases up to 289, according to ministry's spokesman Dr. Abdullah Al-Sanad. In addition, 216 virus patients are still receiving necessary treatment, while 13 others are in intensive care units.