Rohingyas living in Cox's Bazar and Rakhine State are increasingly at risk of becoming victims of trafficking following the Myanmar Army's brutal crackdown last year, law enforcement agencies and aid organisations have said. A number of UN agencies and international rights organisations had earlier come to the same conclusion through their own investigations which revealed that Rohingya men, women and children were being trafficked to different parts of Southeast Asia in greater and greater numbers, as the crisis drags on.
Over the last months, law enforcing agencies in Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries managed to rescue a number of such victims. To take just one example, Myanmar's naval authorities intercepted two boats carrying around 200 Rohingyas being trafficked in November on two separate occasions. However, concerns remain that despite some victims being rescued, the majority of those trafficked are escaping law enforcers' radar and being severely exploited—with women and children, both male and female, being forced into the sex trade.
Given the conditions that the Rohingyas have been compelled to live in—in Rakhine and within the confines of various refugee camps outside of Myanmar—for years now, it comes as no surprise that traffickers are easily deceiving them with false promises of greener pastures, only to have them back in chains of one form or another.
The bottom line is that the longer the crisis continues, the greater their vulnerability to internal and external exploitation—while allowing criminal networks to strengthen themselves through victimising the Rohingyas. That is why, international and regional organisations at all levels urgently need to put sufficient pressure on Myanmar to end the crisis, and to ensure that the Rohingya people can live safely, without having their basic rights violated, in their own country.