Bangladeshis trafficked to Vanuatu want resettlement in New Zealand or Australia

A group of 101 Bangladeshi human trafficking victims in Vanuatu want to be resettled in New Zealand or Australia.

The migrants were brought to Vanuatu over the past two years by a businessman who they claim tortured and enslaved them on arrival.

Rights groups said four people had been charged with trafficking and are before the Vanuatu Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for the migrants, Shahin Khan, said they would rather be resettled than work in Vanuatu, where there was a shortage of jobs for locals.

Mr Khan said among the group were chefs, electricians, plumbers and other technical experts who could benefit New Zealand and Australia.

"Whatever the experience we have, we might get these kind of jobs so we can support our families. We still very badly miss our families. Kids have stopped their schooling and they are starving. It's been almost two years for some of our guys and it's a horrible situation back at home."

Shahin Khan said the next court date had been set for Sunday.

Earlier this week, a home ministry official in Bangladesh, Abu Bakar Siddique, said a team from the high commission would assist with the migrants' return to Bangladesh.

In interviews, migrants have said they would be killed over outstanding debts to loan sharks if they returned.

Mr Khan said an official with Bangladesh's nearest embassy in Australia, Nahid Afroz, told him by phone on Thursday that she would visit the group on 22 April.

In an email, Ms Afroz said: "At this stage, we can only say that we are working on it and we will start the process soon".

Mr Khan said he had also approached New Zealand's high commissioner to Vanuatu, Jonathan Schwass, for help but had not heard back.

New Zealand has sent nearly $NZ7000 in support for the migrants, which went towards the installation of a water tank and basic hygiene supplies.

The migrants are being housed by Vanuatu's government, with locals pitching in to provide them with food.