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170 Refugees found on Koh Tarutao

Samui Times Editor



170 Refugees found on Koh Tarutao | Samui Times

A team of police and Tarutao National Park rangers have rounded up 170 refugees who were allegedly planning on illegally entering Australia after hiding out in Koh Tarutao in Satun.

The group comprised of 110 men, 12 women and 48 children of five nationalities including Rohingya Muslims. None of the refuges from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and Pakistan had any travel documents and it is believed they were taken to Tarutao via two brokers, one Thai and one Malaysian, both of who fled during the raid and are still at large.

The migrants were planning on boarding a boat bound for Australia but instead were rounded up and taken to the mainland to be questioned by Satun police and charged with illegal entry. The Rohingya were not charged but instead placed in detention centers. Pol Lt Col Chaipol said they would be sent to a third country at a later date.

While on the island the migrants were guarded by three armed Thai men, who also fled during the raid.  During the interview process the migrants were questioned on whether or not they had been trafficked but claimed that they wanted to work in Australia where they could earn far higher wages than in their native countries. Others claimed they simply wanted to holiday in Australia.

The crackdown came in response to an alert issued by the Australian police about the migration racket

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