Mass graves of suspected migrants found


Summary

Malaysia has found mass graves feared to contain the bodies of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants at the centre of a regional human-trafficking crisis.

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Home Minister Zahid Hamidi was quoted by The Star newspaper’s website as saying the graves were found near suspected detention camps run by people traffickers.

“But we don’t know how many there are. We are probably going to find more bodies,” Zahid was quoted as saying.

Thai police found secret human-trafficking jungle camps on their side of the border in early May and dozens of shallow graves.

The report quoting Zahid gave few details but the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Malaysia, citing an unnamed source, earlier reported that about 30 mass graves had been found containing “hundreds of skeletons”.

The Star, also quoting sources, had said the graves were “believed to contain nearly 100 Rohingya migrants”.

Thailand began a crackdown on human trafficking and smuggling following the discovery of its mass graves, which appears to have thrown regional trafficking routes into chaos.

Many migrants previously tried to enter Malaysia, their favoured destination, via its land border with Thailand.

With traffickers apparently now abandoning their human cargo at sea, boats filled with hundreds of starving migrants from the two countries have sought desperately to land in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which turned them away.

Facing growing international pressure, Malaysia and Indonesia said last week they would admit boat people, who are to be repatriated or resettled with the help of international agencies.

Indonesia’s military said President Joko Widodo had ordered the country to start search and rescue operations for stranded migrant boats, an operation that began on Friday.

“We will save the migrants and take them to shore,” military spokesman Fuad Basya told AFP, adding that as of late Saturday, no new boats had been sighted.

Previously, Indonesian fisherman have helped hundreds of stranded Bangladeshis and Rohingya to shore.

The Malaysian government announced on Thursday that its navy and coastguard would be mobilised for search operations but so far it has not reported any rescues.

Widodo reportedly indicated on Sunday that Jakarta would need help footing the bill for housing thousands of destitute people.

“We’re counting and making calculations on the costs involved,” he was quoted as saying on Detikcom news website. “We still need international support on how this would be managed.”

Malaysian media said the latest mass graves were found near Padang Besar and Wang Kelian, two towns along the Thai border in the Malaysian state of Perlis.

Police declined to release information but the national police chief will hold a news conference on the matter on Monday.

Malaysia’s government had previously denied that any such mass graves or slave camps existed on its soil.

“I am shocked!” Zahid was quoted by The Star as saying.

He added that some of the camps may have been there for as long as five years, and that Malaysian citizens were suspected to have been involved.


Malaysia has found mass graves feared to contain the bodies of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants at the centre of a regional human-trafficking crisis.

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Home Minister Zahid Hamidi was quoted by The Star newspaper’s website as saying the graves were found near suspected detention camps run by people traffickers.

“But we don’t know how many there are. We are probably going to find more bodies,” Zahid was quoted as saying.

Thai police found secret human-trafficking jungle camps on their side of the border in early May and dozens of shallow graves.

The report quoting Zahid gave few details but the Malay-language newspaper Utusan Malaysia, citing an unnamed source, earlier reported that about 30 mass graves had been found containing “hundreds of skeletons”.

The Star, also quoting sources, had said the graves were “believed to contain nearly 100 Rohingya migrants”.

Thailand began a crackdown on human trafficking and smuggling following the discovery of its mass graves, which appears to have thrown regional trafficking routes into chaos.

Many migrants previously tried to enter Malaysia, their favoured destination, via its land border with Thailand.

With traffickers apparently now abandoning their human cargo at sea, boats filled with hundreds of starving migrants from the two countries have sought desperately to land in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which turned them away.

Facing growing international pressure, Malaysia and Indonesia said last week they would admit boat people, who are to be repatriated or resettled with the help of international agencies.

Indonesia’s military said President Joko Widodo had ordered the country to start search and rescue operations for stranded migrant boats, an operation that began on Friday.

“We will save the migrants and take them to shore,” military spokesman Fuad Basya told AFP, adding that as of late Saturday, no new boats had been sighted.

Previously, Indonesian fisherman have helped hundreds of stranded Bangladeshis and Rohingya to shore.

The Malaysian government announced on Thursday that its navy and coastguard would be mobilised for search operations but so far it has not reported any rescues.

Widodo reportedly indicated on Sunday that Jakarta would need help footing the bill for housing thousands of destitute people.

“We’re counting and making calculations on the costs involved,” he was quoted as saying on Detikcom news website. “We still need international support on how this would be managed.”

Malaysian media said the latest mass graves were found near Padang Besar and Wang Kelian, two towns along the Thai border in the Malaysian state of Perlis.

Police declined to release information but the national police chief will hold a news conference on the matter on Monday.

Malaysia’s government had previously denied that any such mass graves or slave camps existed on its soil.

“I am shocked!” Zahid was quoted by The Star as saying.

He added that some of the camps may have been there for as long as five years, and that Malaysian citizens were suspected to have been involved.