>> For people under siege, these rickety boats may look like freedom. They ferry tens of thousands Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine site to Bangladesh to escape the deadly onslaught from Myanmar's army. But safety comes at a cost, as much as US $120 per adult to be exact. Reuters Simon Lewis is in Cox's Bazar, where some refugees say they've been held for ransom by Bangladeshi fisherman if they can't pay for the trip.
>> Some of the Rohingya Muslims who've arrived here have told us they charge extortionate rates to take the boats here across to Bangladesh>> Some people say they have had to hand over their family heirlooms of gold, gold necklaces and rings to these boatmen because they don't have any money having fled their homes.
>> Bangladeshi officials say they are nothing more than human traffickers and have made arrests and even set fire to some boats. The fishermen though tell a different tale. Describing this as a moral call to help their Muslim brothers.>> We've spoken to fishermen from here in southern Bangladesh who say that they're going across the border to Myanmar to rescue people.
They say that yes they do take some money for their journey to pay for petrol and other things, but they say inherently this is a humanitarian act. And they say there are thousands of people still waiting to be rescued on the beach, and they want to go back.
>> More than 400,000 Rohingya have poured into Bangladesh in the last three weeks fleeing what the UN calls a textbook case of ethnic cleansing. Thousands of others huddle on Myanmar shores waiting for their chance to make the five-hour journey, which is blurring the lines between rescuing and profiteering.