Bangladesh is trying to repatriate its boatpeople held at Belantik detention centre in Kedah of Malaysia as soon as possible, says Bangladeshi High Commissioner to Malaysia Md Shahidul Islam.
He said the first batch would be sent back, possibly next week, and was hopeful of repatriating 716 people reportedly held at the centre in phases.
"I found all of them interested to return to Bangladesh, if possible before Ramadhan. So, my government is very much aware of this and has taken all necessary steps to send them to Bangladesh as early as possible," Shahidul Islam told Malaysian news agency Bernama on Friday.
It was reported that 1,158 Rohingya and Bangladeshi refugees, including women and children, arrived in a boat at Langkawi, Kedah on May 10. The Belantik detention centre has become a temporary home for the stranded refugees.
The Bangladesh envoy said he visited the centre on June 2, and found that 90 percent of the ‘716 Bangladeshi’ illegal immigrants had unwittingly become victims to human trafficking syndicates.
"Most of them told me they were taken to Bangladesh’s tourist spots Cox's Bazar and St Martin's Island …they went there to visit the places. Later, someone asked them if they want to see a 'big ship' and when they headed to it, it turned out to be just a big boat," he said, adding that it then dawned on them they had become victims to human trafficking," he added.