February 18, 2019
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Bangladesh stops 22 Rohingyas from traveling onto Malaysia by boat

Dhaka, Feb 11 (efe-epa).- Bangladeshi security forces have prevented 22 Rohingya people from fleeing the precarious conditions of a refugee camp by boat in order to reach Malaysia, a police source told EFE on Monday.

The group was stopped on Sunday night after walking from Kutupalong refugee camp in the southeast of the country to an abandoned house near the sea, where they waited to get on a boat, Border Guards Bangladesh commander Asadud Zaman Chowdhury said.

"We were trying to track them from two days," the commander said, adding that the Rohingyas were taken to the area by suspected human traffickers, who took large sums of money from the refugees after promising to take them to Malaysia via the perilous sea route.

"Rohingyas told us they paid from 50,000 Taka ($600) to 200,000 Taka ($2,400) for each person to the traffickers. They were promised to be taken to Malaysia," he said.

"Some women told us they got married with Rohingyas living in Malaysia over phone and were traveling to live with their husband," he added.

Among those stopped by Bangladeshi authorities on Sunday were 10 women, 11 minors and one man, according to the commander, who said the group had been sent back to Kutupalang camp.

The BGB did not manage to arrest any traffickers.

According to the BGB commander, it was the third group of Rohingyas that was stopped trying to flee the country by boat in the last four months from Cox's Bazar in the southeast.

Some 30 Rohingyas were intercepted on Friday in different parts of Cox's Bazar, and another 14 in November were stopped trying to leave via a similar means.

About 738,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived at refugee camps in Cox's Bazar since the beginning of the crisis on Aug. 25, 2017, following a wave of persecution and violence in Myanmar that the United Nations has described as an attempt at "ethnic cleansing."

Undocumented Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants have been using the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea in order to reach other countries in a quest for a better life.

In 2015, thousands of migrants were rescued from international waters after crowding into boats bound for Indonesia and Thailand.

That same year, Thai authorities uncovered a trafficking ring operating in a jungle in the south of the country that was moving undocumented migrants via dangerous sea routes using rickety boats.

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