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UNHCR, Thai Police Confront Human Trafficking in Southern Thailand

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SONGKHLA – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials and Thai police visit southern Thailand to observe a human trafficking situation after many groups of illegal migrants from Myanmar have landed in Songkhla destined for Malaysia.

The UNHCR officials also visited an old warehouse in Sadao district, which was used as temporary shelter for 20 Myanmar migrants who were rescued on June 20th by anti-human trafficking police.

20 Burmese Rohingya Muslims migrants (including 5 children) were rescued after being locked in a warehouse by human traffickers in Songkhla Province, local villagers said they had heard the sound of children crying – Photo CRT

Pol Gen Suchart Thirasawat, head of the anti-human trafficking center of the Royal Thai Police, said Thailand had rescued about 1,500 victims of human traffickers and arrested 151 illegal labor agents and traffickers.

Thailand had continued its measures against human trafficking along the border with Myanmar, he said.

Human trafficking victims had been provided helps under a program by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, said Pol Gen Suchart.

According to the UNHCR, as of April, 24,720 refugees have been given shelter in Malaysia.

Thai officials have said the refugees currently in Malaysia contact trafficking rings in Myanmar to bring their relatives. The traffickers then hire Thais to transport the Rohingya Muslims through to their destination.

Rohingya people are seen detained in a police station after a fishing boat carrying more than sixty Rohingya refugees was found beached at Rawi island, part of Tarutao national park in the province of Satun, Thailand, bordering with Malaysia, June 12, 2019.

In June, Thai authorities have charged the captain and crew of a boat carrying 65 Rohingya Muslims with assisting illegal immigration after the group was found stranded on a southern Thai island.

The 29 men, 31 women and five children were discovered on Rawi island in Satun province where their boat had beached due to engine trouble, police said.

The crew – five Myanmar nationals and the Thai captain – were charged with assisting foreign nationals to enter the country illegally, an offence that can carry a prison term of up to 10 years.