In the crowded refugee camps of southeastern Bangladesh, Rohingya girls sometimes disappear – and, in certain cases, into the homes of local people. Jamila Khatun – who came to Bangladesh from Myanmar in 2012 with her husband and six daughters – said she had allowed two of her girls to be taken into the home of a local official in Bandarban district, then lost track of them for five years. “The municipal official took my daughters to Dhaka by making a lucrative job offer,” she said. The girls were 13 and 9 at the time. “After taking them there, the official told them that if they did not agree to stay, their parents would be tortured,” Jamila told BenarNews, an RFA-affiliated online news service. She claimed she and her husband were also threatened. The family was reunited earlier this year with help from the International Organization for Migration (IMO) and officials in the Leda refugee camp in Teknaf, a sub-district of Cox’s Bazar, where they now live. Abdul Motaleb, chairman of the Leda camp development committee, told BenarNews that he had received a letter late last month from a woman whose two girls, ages 11 and 12, were missing. “I am praying to you for the rescue of my daughters,” Sakhina Khatun wrote to the chairman. Sakhina’s letter said two Rohingya women took the girls to Chittagong after offering them jobs. She went there but could not retrieve her daughters. Jahangir Kabir Chowdhury, chairman of Rajapalong Union Council, a local governing body, said financially secure people in Chittagong hired poor Rohingya women and girls. “Some families have more than one Rohingya domestic worker,” he said. An official of an international agency working with Rohingya who asked not to be identified told BenarNews that “women and children are being trafficked to exploit them for sexual servitude and domestic work.” Concerns downplayed More than 700,000 Rohingya escaped to Cox’s Bazar and nearby areas in neighboring Bangladesh after a crackdown began on Aug. 25, 2017, in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. They joined more than 200,000 who had fled previous persecution and cycles of violence in Myanmar. In July, an IOM statement said the U.N. agency had identified and was assisting 78 trafficking victims in Cox’s Bazar district over the previous 10 months, and warned that many more people were at risk. “The horrific prospect that thousands of people affected by the Rohingya crisis will end up in the hands of traffickers is a risk that must not be underestimated,” said Manuel Marques Pereira, IOM’s Emergency Coordinator in Cox’s Bazar. Two refugee camp leaders – Mohammad Foyezu Arakani of Kutupalong camp and Deen Mohammad of the Tulabagan camp – told BenarNews that four to five women and children had gone missing from each camp over the last two months. Rohingya refugees are restricted from leaving the camps and have no legal means of earning a livelihood, adding complexity to the question of who is missing and why. About 58,000 Rohingya were arrested and returned to the camps over the last year, according to Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner. Local officials, meanwhile, downplayed concerns about human trafficking of Rohingya. “The number of potential cases of trafficking has come down,” A.K.M. Iqbal Hossain, the police superintendent in Cox’s Bazar, told BenarNews, adding, “Sometimes we get one or two potential trafficking cases.” Hossain said the Bangladesh border guard and army had set up 13 security checkpoints at different strategic points in Ukhia and Teknaf sub-districts to stop human trafficking. A Red Cross official concurred. “There are some cases of missing of women and children. But the number of such cases is not very high,” Imam Jafar Shikder, an International Red Cross official in Ukhia told BenarNews.Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036

Ten ethnic armed organizations that have signed Myanmar’s nationwide peace accord will hold a third summit in northern Thailand to discuss points agreed to during the government’s most recent round of peace talks and a strategy for moving forward to end seven decades of civil war with the national military.

Representatives from all 10 signatory armies will attend the four-day summit in Chiang Mai, according to Khine Soe Naing Aung, vice chairman of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), who participated in a meeting of the Peace Process Steering Team (PPST) in the Thai city on Thursday.

We are still discussing where and when we will hold it, he told RFA’s Myanmar Service, though an announcement on the ethnic armed groups’ website said the summit will take place on Sept. 8-11.

The PPST, which comprises leaders of the signatories of Myanmar’s nationwide cease-fire agreement (NCA), formed two teams in April to hold informal discussions with the government on political and security issues.

PPST leader General Mutu Say Poe, who is president of the Karen National Union (KNU), gave the opening speech at the gathering, urging participants at the upcoming summit to discuss the results of the third round of the government’s key peace initiative known as the 21st-Century Panglong Conference.

He also said that the groups should work on a solution that addresses differences among them and discuss their future plans.

The 10 NCA-signatory groups will also consider a framework for political dialogue and discuss issues regarding ethnic armies that have not signed the NCA, the online news service Mizzima reported.

At the third session of the Panglong Conference in July, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi called for patience and a new strategic vision to build a peace framework to end civil war in the country.

The round concluded with 14 agreements in principle, adding to 37 points of accord reached at the previous peace talks session in May 2017.

Of the 14 basic principles agreed to by 700 delegates over six days, seven covered social issues, four were in the political sector, one involved the economy, and two addressed land matters. But no agreement was reached on the security sector, where the powerful national military and the ethnic militias remain at odds.

The 10 groups, collectively known as Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement-Signatories, Ethnic Armed Organizations (NCA-S EAO), are the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF); Arakan Liberation Party (ALP); Chin National Front (CNF); Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA); Karen National Union (KNU); KNU/Karen National Liberation Army-Peace Council (KNU/KNLA-PC); The Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO); Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS); New Mon State Party (NMSP); and Lahu Democratic Union (LDU).

The first eight groups signed the government’s NCA in October 2015, while the last two signed the accord in February 2018.

Representatives of three ethnic armies that have not signed the NCA met briefly for the first time with Myanmar government peace negotiators in southwest China’s Kunming on Wednesday, though the outcome did not yield much in the way of specific proposals.

The three groups � the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA) � have not signed the NCA because of ongoing hostilities with the national army.

The ethnic armed groups say they seek a federated state in which they coexist as equals with the ethnic Burman majority.

Copyright (copyright) 1998-2016, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036