The Southeast Asian countries must work together to break the nexus of the regional gangs trafficking people for forced labour or slavery, speakers told a national consultation yesterday.
They observed that a lack of national and regional collaboration is still a major challenge to fight trafficking that jeopardised so many lives, particularly Bangladeshis and Rohingyas.
The International Organisation for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) jointly organised the programme at a hotel in the capital. Dhaka.
Women, men and children are trafficked within and outside Bangladesh for commercial sexual exploitation, bonded labour, and forced labour, said Stina Elisabeth Ljungdell, country representative of UNHCR in Dhaka.
She cited a UNHCR report, saying 53,000 Southeast Asians including Bangladeshis fled towards Thailand and Malaysia through the Bay of Bengal this year.
About 540 people have reportedly died during the journey at sea for beatings, starvation or dehydration, and their bodies were thrown overboard, says the report published Friday.
"To tackle human trafficking, we need political will, a legislative structure, implementation and administrative resources," said Shahidul Haque, the foreign secretary.
He laid emphasis on joint efforts of the origin and destination countries to protect the people who are duped in the name of jobs abroad.
Drawing attention of the Southeast Asia region's governments, senior home secretary Mozammel Haque Khan called for a comprehensive strategy to fight trafficking.