The authorities have transferred 68 illegal immigrants from the Middle East to the Kupang immigration detention center in East Nusa Tenggara.
Police and immigration officers were assisted by officials from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in transferring the illegal immigrants from West Sumba and Rote Ndao regencies.
Kupang immigration detention center chief Nur El Islami said on Monday that 51 illegal immigrants were transferred from West Sumba and the remaining 17 from Rote Ndao.
“Of the 68 immigrants evacuated to Kupang, files on 34 of them have been completed while the rest are still being questioned by the Kupang immigration office,” he said.
Meanwhile, a source at IOM revealed that the immigrants were those who had escaped in March from detention centers in Manado, North Sulawesi, and Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi. The groups were stranded in East Nusa Tenggara in late May.
“The group from Manado was stranded in Wonokoka district in West Sumba regency. There were 52 of them but one died when their vessel sank,” the source said. “Those from Kendari were stranded in Rote Ndao.”
The source added that the military arrested another 59 illegal immigrants on Laiwutung Beach in Kadahang village in Haharu district, East Sumba regency.
The immigrants, who left from Surabaya, are seven Iranians, 51 Kuwaitis and one Syrian.
“Currently they are being questioned at the East Sumba Police headquarters. After files on them are completed, they will be sent to the Kupang immigration detention center,” the source said.
Many illegal immigrants, mostly from conflict-torn countries in the Mideast, use Indonesian islands and beaches, especially those in East Nusa Tenggara, as stepping stones to cross to Australia to look for better lives.
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