Conflict, climate and corruption fuel human trafficking in Southeast Asia: United Nations | Human Trafficking News

The latest report comes amid a surge in the number of mainly Muslim Rohingya people making perilous voyages in search of safety.

Conflict in countries such as Thailand and Malaysia, climate and demand for low-wage labor are driving the rise in the smuggling trade in Southeast Asia, with corruption a “key factor”, according to a new United Nations report. The National Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

UNODC said in its Southeast Asia Migrant Smuggling Report that tens of thousands of people from Myanmar, other parts of Southeast Asia and outside the region are smuggled into the country every year via Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Published on Tuesday.

The report identified three major trends regarding stowaways. One is the demand for workers willing to take low-wage jobs and the limited routes people can legally take to get these jobs. There is a “significant number” of people who need international protection but have few legal means to reach safety. and rampant corruption among some public officials.

The report said such corruption “not only facilitates and enables migrant smuggling, but also contributes to the impunity of perpetrators.” Public officials share in the profits of smuggling. Taking bribes to ensure compliance. Obstructing a criminal investigation. ”

For the report, UNODC surveyed approximately 4,785 migrants and refugees from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and 83% of them said they had been smuggled into the country. An additional 60 immigrants and refugees also participated in in-depth qualitative interviews, and 35 key informants were interviewed.

One in four migrant smugglers said they had experienced corruption and had been forced to bribe officials such as immigration officials, police or the military. UNODC noted that corruption also facilitated the smuggling trade. He said this was because travelers felt it necessary for smugglers to deal with state authorities due to corruption.

Many of those fleeing the conflict are from Myanmar, mostly Rohingya Muslims, hundreds of thousands of whom fled to neighboring Bangladesh when the military launched a brutal crackdown in 2017. It is currently being investigated as a genocide.

The report comes amid a surge in the number of Rohingya people making perilous sea journeys from Bangladesh and Myanmar to seek safety in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia on Monday ended its search for a boat believed to be carrying about 150 people that capsized off the coast of northern Aceh province, throwing dozens of people into the sea. Approximately 69 people were rescued and three bodies were recovered.

UNODC also found that abuse was widespread, with three-quarters of those surveyed saying they had experienced some form of abuse during their journey from the smugglers themselves, the military, police and criminal organizations. ing. The most commonly reported type of abuse was physical violence.

In 2015, Thailand and Malaysia discovered mass graves in more than 20 human trafficking camps hidden in the jungle on the Malaysian side of the Wang Kelian border. Police discovered 139 graves and evidence that the people held there had been tortured.

Thailand and Malaysia conducted a joint investigation into the camp, and two years later Thailand convicted 62 defendants, including nine government officials, over the deaths of Rohingya and Bangladeshis and the trafficking of people through Thailand to Malaysia. was lowered.

Last June, Malaysia indicted four Thai nationals extradited from Bangkok over detention camps.

An earlier investigation found that no Malaysian enforcement officers, civil servants or local residents were involved in the human trafficking syndicate, but there was “gross negligence” on the part of border forces who were unaware of the camp.

UNODC said that as well as conflict and labor, climate change is also emerging as a factor in people smuggling into Southeast Asia.

According to the report, one in four people surveyed said they had no choice but to migrate due to an increase in extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods, including Bangladeshi people surveyed. This includes 3 out of 4 people.

According to the report, the average price paid for smuggling into Southeast Asia was $2,380, slightly higher for men than for women.

Afghans smuggled to Malaysia and Indonesia paid the most at $6,004.

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