IOM Press Briefing Notes
by Jean Philippe Chauzy, IOM Spokesperson
23 October 2001

Indonesia - Irregular Migration

Forty-four irregular migrants survived a shipwreck in the Java Sea. According to survivors who were interviewed by IOM in Bogor, Indonesia, the boat transporting 421 people left from the port of Bandar Lampung, Sumatra last Thursday morning. Later that day, 21 passengers asked to get off the boat and were landed on an island.

In the early hours of Friday, the captain reported engine failure and said the boat was fast taking water. According to survivors, the boat sank in ten minutes. Forty-four survivors spent hours in the sea before being rescued by local Indonesian fishermen on Saturday morning.

One of the survivors said to IOM, 'the boat just fell apart, there was no hope. We want to find the criminals who put us on that boat.'

According to the survivors, the vessel, a traditional Indonesian wooden fishing boat 18 meters long by three meters wide, was transporting an overwhelming majority of Iraqis. On board were also Afghans, Algerians, Iranians, and Palestinians.

Among the survivors is an 8-year-old boy who lost 21 members of his family. An 18-month-old baby girl also survived with her father. This morning, two survivors are still in a hospital in Bogor, the remainder have been transferred to a hotel where there are being taken care of by IOM.

On Monday, IOM dispatched an emergency team of four, including one medical doctor, to provide medical and counselling assistance to the survivors.

'We are providing for their immediate needs such as clothes, food, water and medicine. These people have been deeply traumatized by this ordeal. We will continue to provide them with counselling to help them come to terms with what has happened,' says IOM's Richard Danziger.

Every year, thousands of irregular migrants, the majority from the Middle East, transit through South East Asia and Indonesia on their way to Australia. Indonesian authorities estimate there are currently some 5,000 people in transit.


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