Rohingya migrants to stay in Thailand awaiting overseas aid

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BANGKOK, Jan 17 – More than 800 Rohingya migrants arrested in the southern province of Songkhla last week will remain on Thai soil pending United Nations assistance on a humanitarian basis, according to a senior official of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

Paisit Sangkhapong, director of the DSI Anti-Human Trafficking Centre, said the Rohingya migrants will not be deported as Thailand is coordinating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to extend help to them.

Thai officials have interviewed the migrants to clearly separate those illegally entering Thailand from human trafficking victims, he said.

He said arrest warrants have been issued for Prasit Laemlae, former deputy mayor of Padang Besar district in Songkhla, and Jamana Din, a Myanmar broker implicated in the human trafficking racket.

Pol Lt-Col Paisit said Rohingya migrants who illegally entered Thailand will be deported to their country of origin while victims of human trafficking network will be sent to a third country.

An official investigation found that the Rohingya ethnic people mostly get ashore at Ranong province where Thai brokers take them on buses to be supplied to Thai employers in the fishing, rubber growing and construction industries.