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More Than 180 Ethnic Rohingya Flee Shelter in Indonesia

An ethnic Rohingya woman who said she got separated with her brother cries at a temporary shelter in Langsa, Aceh province, Indonesia, Saturday, May 16, 2015. More than 1,000 people fleeing persecution in Myanmar and poverty in Bangladesh landed in several places in Southeast Asia, describing killings, extortion and near-starvation after a harrowing journey at sea. (AP Photo/Binsar Bakkara)

October 18, 2015

BANDA ACEH, Indonesia — A total of 182 ethnic Rohingya have fled their encampment in Indonesia's Aceh province, with government officials suspecting they may have been persuaded by human traffickers to flee, an official said Saturday.

An inspection Friday by the local government in coordination with both the International Organization for Migration and the U.N. Refugee Agency found that only 140 out of about 322 Rohingya remained at the refugee shelter in Blang Adoe village in northern Aceh, said Amir Hamzah, the spokesman for the North Aceh district government.

"We suspect they were persuaded by agents (of human traffickers) who promised to be able to transport them to Malaysia, because many have their family members there in Malaysia," Hamzah said.

He said an investigation was underway by police and the local government to find out the masterminds.

Hamzah said the refugees may have left the encampment in groups, but could not specify when they began to flee.

They are among more than 3,000 Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis abandoned by human traffickers who were rescued or washed ashore in May in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Indonesia sheltered 1,346 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants. They are being held in camps and some are separated from family members, including those living in Malaysia. Most of the Bangladeshis have been sent back to their country.

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Rohingya Exodus