here Are Kidnappers Here, So Be Careful? Traffickers Preying On Rohingya Children In Bangladesh Camps

The end of the cyclone season comes as a relief to most Rohingya in Bangladesh Kutupalong refugee camp. But not Noor Alom, who had been searching for his six-year-old daughter for two days.

Fatima left their home, which sits near three putrid latrines, to play on a nearby hillside – and never came back.

淣obody has any news about her,?Alom said after another exasperating search in the blistering heat, his wife rocking on the floor beside him. am so worried that someone has sold her and taken her to another place. People told me that it occurs here.?/p>

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His fears are not misplaced. The UN says trafficking networks already exist in southern Bangladesh sprawling camps, which have been overwhelmed by the arrival of more than 600,000 Rohingya fleeing Myanmar over the last two months.

Six out of 10 of the new arrivals in the Bangladesh camps are children, providing a fertile hunting ground for traffickers looking for young girls to recruit as maids. Thousands of children have, at some point, been separated from their families amid the chaos.

t is a major, major risk,?said Jean Lieby, head of child protection at the UN children agency [Unicef] in Bangladesh. oung girls might enter into this type of trafficking and then end up in one of the big cities.?/p>

Despite its important title, the centre only equipment is a wooden table and a megaphone. But, from the moment the sun rises, it is inundated with people looking for their loved ones.

or the Rohingya who have just come here, this place is new,?said Ahmed. f they go far from their house, they can easily get lost.?/p>

Two toddlers sat beside Ahmed, staring with terror at the wall of bodies in front of them.

f these children are yours, you can take them,?he said, describing their red and yellow T-shirts, and how one had no pants on while the other had a toy in his hand. f they belong to your relative, you can inform them that they are here.?/p>

Ahmed does not disclose the children names to protect them from potential traffickers. To claim a child, a parent must correctly recite their name and the child must confirm that the adult is their mother or father.

Ahmed is only too aware of the threat of human-trafficking in Kutupalong. Only a day earlier, an unfamiliar man tried to snatch a child sitting on a footpath. He was swiftly attacked by the child relative who was buying food from a nearby shop.

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ome people told me the child will have died, others told me the child will have been kidnapped ?When I heard he was at this place, I felt so happy I touched the sky with my hand.?/p>

Other desperate families are selling their children into bonded labour, most commonly in the fish drying industry that dominates the nearest city, Cox Bazar, Unicef said.

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Families receive 18,000 taka (US$217) while their children work to pay off the debt during the nine-month fishing season.

With the spectre of child trafficking looming large over the Rohingya camps, Alom was fortunate. After a three-day search, he found Fatima crying on one of Kutupalong dusty streets.

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