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Songkhla ranked fourth highest in human-trafficking

The Royal Thai Police revealed that Songkhla ranked fourth in terms of the number of areas most at risk of human-trafficking crimes at 642, after Bangkok's 1,108, Chumphon's 997 and Prachuap Khiri Khan's 848 locations.

19 Jun 13
The Nation

This report prompted Social Development and Human Security Minister's secretary Anusorn Eiamsa-Ard to visit the province for inspection yesterday, where he was told by Songkhla deputy governor Surapong Panut-ampon that there were many human-trafficking cases in terms of prostitution in the city.

Surapong explained that Songkhla, a tourism and trade hub, served as a core supplier of women and children to prostitution rings in Malaysia and Singapore. He said authorities had rescued 73 prostitution victims in 2011; 17 in 2012 and eight in 2013. There was also a high number of people being forced into labour in the fishery business, he said, adding that authorities had rescued 15 persons in 2011; 17 in 2012; and seven in 2013.

Provincial Police Region 9 investigator Pol Maj-General Jeerawat Udomsuk said he covered human-trafficking crimes in Songkhla, Satun, Trang and Phang Nga provinces and the toughest issue was the Rohingya people who fled turmoil in Myanmar and wished to live here permanently. He said the refugees were a financial burden on the Thai government, but nothing could be done other than force them back into their country. Even then, they tend to sneak back in, he said.

Jeerawat cited Sadao district, where thousands of migrant children had no access to education and would possibly grow up to cause social problems in the future. He called on the foreign minister and other people in power to speak to Malaysia about pushing Rohingya refugees into Thailand as well as punish the state officials who help with the transfer.

Royal Thai Police representative Pol Colonel Surapong Muenpaopun said there were 2,000 registered Rohinya people in Thailand, but the actual figure could be larger and grow further if nothing is done to send them back to Myanmar. These people also faced the risk of becoming human-trafficking victims.

Anusorn's visit was to prepare for the ministry's strategy to tackle human trafficking in seven pilot provinces such as Songkhla, which will be used as a model for the suppression of human-trafficking cases.