Thai officials confirmed Wednesday that 13 Rohingya Muslims were found alongside a road after reportedly being abandoned by people smugglers in southern Chumphon province.
Police Captain Vasant Dtato of Chumphon Police told Anadolu Agency the Rohingya had been smuggled overland from Myanmar through Thailand’s western Kanchanaburi province as opposed to the usual sea routes — where the region witnessed a boat people crisis last year.
The Rohingya group — among who were six women and three children — said they had paid smugglers to take them from Thailand to Malaysia, only to be abandoned in Chumphon.
According to Dtato, the 13 will be taken to a detention center and charged with illegal entry.
In May last year, Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking following the discovery of more than 30 corpses in jungle camps along the southern border with Malaysia.
People smugglers responded to the measures by abandoning thousands of people — mostly Bangladeshis and Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar — at sea, where they became stranded for weeks.
Rohingya — whom the United Nations consider to be among the world’s most persecuted ethnic minorities — have been fleeing Myanmar’s western Rakhine State in droves since 2012, in fear of violence that some human rights groups consider to be state sponsored.