By Fatih Erel
GENEVA (AA) - The UN’s migration agency on Tuesday warned of the trafficking, exploitation and sexual abuse of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.
International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Joel Millman told a news conference in Geneva: “Desperate men, women and children are being recruited with false offers of paid work in various industries including fishing, small commerce, begging and, in the case of girls, domestic work."
Since Aug. 25 more than 617,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, fleeing violence in Myanmar, Millman said.
According to UN, the total Rohingya refugee population in the area is now over 830,000.
"Some report being forced into jobs which they never agreed to do.
“In one case, a number of adolescent girls, who were promised work as domestic helpers in Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong, were forced into prostitution.
“Others reported being brought to locations different from the agreed destination," Millman said.
Noting that some Rohingya refugees have been trafficked outside Bangladesh, Millman said: "Most of the trafficking is taking place inside the country, which follows the pattern of trafficking globally."
The refugees are fleeing a military operation in which security forces and Buddhist mobs have killed men, women and children, looted homes and torched Rohingya villages.
According to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, around 3,000 Rohingya have been killed in the crackdown.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a recent report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.