Migrants Arrested While Trying to Make it to Australia
MAKASSAR ~ The authorities have arrested a dozen Afghan and Vietnamese migrants who were trying to reach Australia, an official said at the weekend.
The eight Afghans and four Vietnamese were arrested early last Thursday on a small island near Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi province.
“They were stranded on Kodingareng island after their boat suffered an engine problem,” Triyono, the head of the detention centre where they were being held, said.
The migrants had offered to pay “a high fee” to local residents to repair the boat’s engine but they reported them to the police instead, he added.
An official from the provincial immigration office Dwi Laksono said that a total of 35 illegal migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, have been arrested in week-long operation from 25 to 31 December in South Sulawesi.
Indonesia is a key staging post for people-smugglers bringing Afghans, Sri Lankans and other nationals for the perilous onward sea journey to Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is under intense political pressure over the issue after a surge in arrivals via Indonesia this year.Filed under: The Nation