Thousands Of Rohingya Migrants Rescued Near Indonesia & Malaysia, And The Photos Show Human Trafficking Is A Global Problem
On Monday, around 1,400 Rohingya migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh were rescued in waters near Indonesia and Malaysia after their boats appeared to have been abandoned by human traffickers, according to authorities. The rescues come a day after 600 migrants were rescued off the coast of Indonesia's Aceh province. These numbers could grow as more people are rescued around the Southeast Asian islands, where human trafficking has become a serious problem.
Three boats carrying more than 1,000 migrants landed in Malaysia, in shallow waters around the resort island Langkawi, authorities said. Indonesian search and rescue teams on Monday found another boat carrying 400 migrants from Myanmar drifting off Aceh, where another 600 people were rescued the previous day. The boats appeared to have been destined for Thailand, where human trafficking has been rampant. But earlier this month, Thailand discovered a mass grave containing dozens of bodies believed to have been Rohingya, leading to a government crackdown on the illegal practice.
Rohingya have been fleeing from the primarily Buddhist nation of Myanmar, where they are viewed as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. In recent years, Rohingya have been the victims of increasing sectarian violence, causing hundreds of thousands to flee. Some escape through bordering Thailand while others take boats to possibly sail to Muslim-majority Malaysia. However, they can often fall prey to human traffickers who redirect them to Thailand. The United Nations has asked Myanmar to grant full citizenship to its Rohingya minority population, which the international organization said is one of the most persecuted refugee groups in the world.
Last month's sinking of a migrant vessel in the Mediterranean, which left between 700 to 900 migrants dead, helped shed light on the huge human trafficking problem in that region of the world. But human trafficking a global problem, one that Southeast Asia has greatly partaken in. Last year, the U.S. State Department downgraded Thailand, along with Malaysia and Venezuela, to its watch list of the worst countries of human trafficking in the world. These tier 3 countries, according to the State Department, have governments who "do not fully comply with the minimum standards (of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act's) and are not making significant efforts to do so."
From forced labor to sex tourism, Thailand has become a destination for migrants from Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, according to a study by Brandeis University. As the Thai government attempts to take real steps in minimizing its human trafficking problem, source countries must also step up in eliminating issues at home that cause migrants to leave in the first place.