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Saturday, May 30, 2015, Jaishtha 16, 1422 BS, Shaban 11, 1436 Hijr

Migrant crisis summit agrees on anti-trafficking taskforce
Rescued BD nationals to be repatriated
Published : Saturday, 30 May, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 27
Diplomatic Correspondent
Bangladesh assured on Friday the migrant crisis summit in Bangkok that the rescued Bangladesh nationals from the shores of Southeast Asia would be repatriated home in a month.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque took the floor at the crucial summit and said his government understands that the appalling boatpeople in Southeast Asian shores is a direct challenge to his government's 'zero-tolerance' approach to human trafficking.
Southeast Asian nations agreed on Friday to intensify search and rescue efforts to help vulnerable "boat people" stranded in the region's seas, as Myanmar said its navy had seized a vessel off its coast with more than 700 migrants aboard.
Countries affected by the crisis agreed at the meeting to set up an anti-trafficking task force, and approved a wide-ranging list of recommendations to tackle the "root causes" of the crisis - although the plan was carefully worded to avoid upsetting Myanmar, which denies it is the source of the problem.
Bangladesh top official expressed his government's eagerness to reverse the trend of the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in the Indian Ocean and specially thanked Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Myanmar to rescue the Bangladeshi nationals to safety and provided humanitarian assistance.
On the other hand, Norachit Sinhaseni, permanent secretary to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs is satisfied and said that Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed to address the "root causes" of a migration crisis at an international meeting in Bangkok.
Describing the talks as "very constructive", Norachit Sinhaseni, said all 17 countries at the table had agreed to a document that includes a commitment "to address factors in the areas of (migrants') origin."
More than 4,000 migrants have landed in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh since Thailand launched a crackdown on people-smuggling gangs this month. Around 2,000 may still be adrift in boats on the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal, the United Nations said.
Haque mentioned at the international meeting that his government has strong political will, which is guided by a robust policy framework and translated into a range of bold and targeted actions. "Our unstinting commitment to combating human trafficking is linked to our pursuit of peace and sustainable development," he added.
He did not hesitate to assure the global community that Bangladesh stands ready to join any regional or global effort to address human trafficking by sea in the Indian Ocean region in an integrated and comprehensive manner.
Regarding the boatpeople camped in the four countries, he said "they deserve our compassion. Our collective endeavour should be to protect their lives, alleviate their sufferings and uphold their dignity."
Alarmed at the human trafficking trade at its worst, not irregular migration by sea are manifestations of a human trafficking trade at its worst.
"As a country of origin, transit and destination, Bangladesh has positioned herself at the forefront of global and regional counter-trafficking initiatives," he added.
He explained that contrary to general perception, the exodus of boatpeople they were not necessarily driven by poverty, instead the main driver pushing most of them into the hands of traffickers.
Bangladesh, Southeast Asian countries and the global community were awestruck against an organised transnational criminal network that has acquired the capacity to challenge national efforts.
He hoped that coordinated effort should succeed in dismantling this network at sources, during transit and at destinations and sought to intensify regional cooperation to find an effective, comprehensive and sustainable solution to address all forms of irregular movements and human trafficking in the region.
"We need to focus on creating further deterrence and awareness to counter the false allure being peddled by traffickers," he remarked.
He assured the summit that Bangladesh has mobilised law enforcement and boder security agencies for patrol across maritime borders and naval forces have gone into high seas to rescue victims and bring the culprits to justice.
In 2014, Haque said 682 trafficking related cases involving a total of 2,834 stands accused and 12 were sentenced to life imprisonment. Anti-trafficking committees has been set up at lowest tier in the villages, monitoring cell at police headquarters, time-bound plan to invest in capacity building of Bangladesh Coast Guard and other agencies, he added.
The Foreign Secretary, however, regretted that despite enabling legal and administrative systems, there remain several implementation challenges, such as resource and capacity constraints that need to be addressed through long term concerted efforts.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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