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Tuesday, 8 February, 2000, 16:46 GMT
Refugees smuggled to Pakistan




By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

A report commissioned by the United Nation's special rapporteur on women says large-scale trafficking of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh to Pakistan has taken place over the past decade.

Images Asia, a non-governmental organisation based in Thailand, says that at least 200,000 Rohingyas are in Pakistan now, most of whom migrated illegally from Bangladesh in the 1990s.

The report has found that Rohingya women are working in brothels in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh.

Thousands of Rohingyas have crossed into Bangladesh from neighbouring Burma over the past decade, fleeing what they say is persecution by the Burmese authorities.

But the report says that desperate conditions in refugee camps in Bangladesh and the fear of being repatriated to Burma have forced many Rohingyas to make the difficult journey to Pakistan.

Debts

The chief researcher of the report, Chris Lewa, told the BBC many Rohingyas travelled to the coastal province of Sindh because they found jobs easily in the fishing industry.

But Ms Lewa added that often refugees have to pay back enormous amounts of money to the touts who arrange the journey to Pakistan, binding many into a cycle of debt.

The report says that as a result, many Rohingyas are forced to take up prostitution and some women have also been sold to local feudal landlords as concubines.

The report also points out that Rohingya prostitutes are extremely likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases because they have little knowledge of contraception and are fearful of contacting local health authorities for fear of being caught by the police.
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See also:
20 Jul 99 |  South Asia
No deal on Burmese refugees in Bangladesh
25 Nov 98 |  South Asia
Rohingya refugees return to Burma

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