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Thailand seeks talks on human trafficking with Malaysia and Myanmar

Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha wants to join Malaysia and Myanmar in stopping the trafficking.

By Ed Adamczyk
Thailand seeks talks on human trafficking with Malaysia and Myanmar
Displaced Rohingya members in Myanmar. Thailand's prime minister proposed talks with Malaysia and Myanmar on human trafficking after bodies were discovered in a border smuggler's camp. Photo Courtesy of Myanmar Foreign and Commonwealth office.

BANGKOK, May 8 (UPI) -- Thailand's prime minister proposed talks with Malaysia and Myanmar on human trafficking after bodies were discovered in a border smuggler's camp.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha made the offer Thursday after dozens of bodies, believed to be those of Rohingya migrants--- an ethnic Muslim group in Myanmar--- were found in Thailand's Songkhla Sadao district, on the border between Thailand and Malaysia. The area has been used as a holding area for migrants who employ human traffickers to sneak them into Malaysia.

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"It's distressing to hear that people who escaped difficult conditions back home have had to put their lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to be killed before they could reach safety," said James Lynch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Thus far, 28 bodies of Rohingya victims have been identified. Over 60 graves have been found, 30 on Wednesday. Prayut also directed 53 police officers to be transferred to the area of the grave sightings to investigate human trafficking crimes.

UNHCR reported Thursday it has learned of stories of abuse and deprivation, on boats in the Bay of Bengal and in camps on the Thai-Malaysian border, from hundreds of Rohingya survivors. Some survivors claimed they witness deaths from beatings and starvation. "These findings have been shared with governments to advocate for urgent action," UNCHR said in a statement.

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