Malaysia brings home 121 suspected victims of job scams trapped in Myanmar conflict

Police officers speak to some people out of the 121 people, comprised of mostly Malaysians who are suspected of being victims of job scams trapped in the Myanmar conflict, as they arrived in Malaysia at Sepang, Malaysia, Dec 1, 2023. — Huzaini Mat Hussin/Malaysia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ Handout via Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 121 people, mostly Malaysians suspected of being victims of job scams, were evacuated from Myanmar on Dec 1 after being stranded by fighting between the military and rebel groups in the country’s north, Malaysia’s foreign ministry said.

The group, which included an Indonesian national, arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 3.24am local time (1924 GMT) through a specially arranged flight from Kunming, China, the ministry said in a statement.

The evacuation mission was carried out through the Myanmar-China border starting Thursday morning with the cooperation and approval of the countries involved, the ministry said.

The mission came amid continuous fighting in northern Myanmar after an alliance of armed ethnic groups launched an offensive in late October. The groups have seized control of several towns and military outposts near the country’s border with China, disrupting trade.

Malaysia’s deputy foreign minister Mohamad Alamin said the rescued group were among 128 people stranded in Laukkaing, a town in Myanmar’s northern Shan state, state news agency Bernama reported on Friday.

Malaysia’s government will monitor developments and is ready to evacuate the remaining seven people who were unable to be rescued, Bernama quoted Mohamad as saying.

Hundreds of Malaysians have been rescued from cybercrime and job scam networks across South-East Asia in recent years. Victims of the rackets say they are lured by promises of high-paying jobs and accommodation benefits, but are often instead forced to live in compounds and defraud online users. – Reuters

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