KANGAR: Looking tired and exhausted, a total of 34 Rohingya refugees, including nine children, some as young as seven, waded through the muddy coastal water before being greeted by the villagers at the Sungai Belati beach in Sungai Baru.
The refugees are believed to have arrived by a boat but were abandoned near the beach at about 7.30am yesterday.
A source from the Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) said the group was believed to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate and their skipper might have abandoned them some 500m away from the beach.
“Fishermen saw them walking up to the beach covered in mud.
“Some were cradling their children while many others were crying,” he said.
With help from the staff of a power plant nearby and APM members, the refugees were duly rescued and given food and water.
“They can’t speak Bahasa Malaysia.
“They looked so hungry, so the villagers gave them drinks and bread.
“We believe they did not have anything to eat throughout the two-day journey,” said the source.
On Thursday, Harian Metro had exposed that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Rohingya Muslim ethnic community had been smuggled into the country via secret entries near Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah, and Wang Kelian in Perlis.
They are believed to have been charged between RM5,000 and RM16,000 by the syndicate and kept inside an abandoned factory in Napoh, Jitra, in Kedah, as a transit point before being taken to Penang.
In January, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) had been set up to investigate the existence of human trafficking camps and graves in Wang Kelian uncovered three years ago.
He, however, did not mention the names of the RCI members or when it would be handed over to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for consent.
In May 2015, Malaysian police discovered 139 graves of human trafficking victims in 28 detention camps in the jungle of Perlis near the Thai border.
The victims were believed to be Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladesh.
They were suspected to have died from abuse or malnourishment.
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