Human Trafficking – Cox’s Bazaar
Girls Sold into Forced Labour Largest Group of Trafficking Victims Identified by IOM in Bangladesh Refugee Camps
Cox’s Bazar – Young girls sold into forced labour are the largest group of trafficking victims identified by the UN Migration Agency (IOM) in Bangladesh’s Rohingya refugee camps.
IOM counter-trafficking experts warn that more than a year into a crisis that has seen the number of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar soar to almost a million, more desperate families are sending their young daughters off into dangerous work situations because most households have no other way to earn money in the camps.
“There is a very limited number of jobs in the camp and for women there is almost nothing. That’s why I went outside of the camp,” explained one young Rohingya woman, who ended up being forced to work extremely long hours for very little pay in the fish processing industry.
Latest figures show that women and girls lured into situations of forced labour account for two thirds of those who have received support from IOM in Cox’s Bazar after escaping or being rescued from exploitation. Another 10 per cent of identified victims were women and girls who suffered sexual exploitation.
Bangladeshi security agencies have reported stopping up to 60 women and girls a day attempting to leave the camps in small groups, many of whom appeared to have been coached what to say, but who, when questioned further, appeared unclear about issues such as who they are supposed to be travelling to meet.
IOM experts stress that adult men and boys are also the target of traffickers, accounting for around one in three of those found to have ended up in forced labour.
…Barred from leaving the refugee settlements, and entirely reliant on aid for survival, other than a limited number of cash-for-work programmes with humanitarian agencies and small-scale trading opportunities within the camps, the refugees are easy prey for traffickers, who promise transportation and access to lucrative work opportunities elsewhere. Other refugees resort to unsafe jobs for subsistence wages or end up in forced or early marriages…