Illegal immigrants stranded in LombokThursday, 2 August 2001
MATARAM, West Nusa Tenggara (JP): The 251 illegal Middle Eastern immigrants stranded on Bima island last month have been moved here where their legal status will be determined.
The immigrants, 248 Iraqis and three Afghans, moved here on Sunday have been accommodated at Wisma Nusantara in Ampenan area under tight security. Fifty six of the refugees are children.
Spokesman for the West Nusa Tenggara Police command, Adj. Comr. Tribudi Pangastuti told The Jakarta Post that the immigrants intended destination was Australia and so the police would coordinate with Australian police authorities and officials of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees on the future of the illegal immigrants.
"They will determine if the aliens can be categorized as refugees. After then the aliens will be sent to Jakarta for further process," Tribudi said.
If they do not qualify for refugee status, Jakarta will send the foreigners back to their countries of origin and if they do qualify, Jakarta will seek a third country to accommodate them, he said.
The illegal immigrants were impounded by Bima Police on July 25 after the boat that carried them through the Indonesian waters broke down in Mawu Bay, Bima.
The boat was hired from Sulawesi. (43)