Police are interrogating six people suspected of human trafficking after Bangladeshi guards separately rescued nearly 50 Rohingya refugees from boats heading for Malaysia through the Bay of Bengal, an official said Thursday.
Pradip Kumar Das, officer-in-charge at Teknaf, said they were questioning the suspects to learn about a network of smugglers who may be luring refugees from sprawling camps ahead of a plan to repatriate them.
Six suspected Bangladeshi traffickers were also arrested while the rescued refugees were sent back to their camps in the district, he said.
Das said they were lured by the traffickers with promises of marriages and jobs in Malaysia.
He said the rescued refugees told them they paid money to the traffickers who said they would soon land in Malaysia amid fears that they would have no future in Myanmar's Rakhine state if they are sent back.
Abul Kalam, a senior Bangladeshi repatriation official in Cox's Bazar, told The Associated Press that they were readying to start the repatriation of some 2,660 refugees from 485 families on November 15. But many of the refugees are reluctant to go back, fearing persecution and an uncertain future.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August last year amid an army-led crackdown.
The refugees are seeking UN protection to return home.
The UN refugee agency and Bangladesh earlier finalised a memorandum of understanding that said the repatriation process must be "safe, voluntary and dignified ... in line with international standards.
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