Detailed illegal migrants from Afghanistan (photo courtesy of Vivanews)
Priests and church workers should inform Catholics about illegal immigrants in the country, said an international NGO representative in Indonesia.
“Illegal migration is a complex issue that has called for the attention of international community,” Nikolaus Salo of the International Organization for Migrants (IOM)
told about one hundred priests and lay people attending a seminar last week in Maumere on Flores Island.
Indonesia’s strategic location in Asia Pacific has made it a transient country for illegal immigrants –from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan - seeking asylum in Australia, said Salo.
He cautioned, however, that not all illegal immigrants seek protection in peaceful countries. Some of them could be involved in money laundering, drug trafficking or even terrorism.
“These things need to be informed to parishioners,” he added.
During 1999-2009, IOM and the Indonesian government handled 6,860 illegal immigrants who arrived in Indonesia.
Some of them returned voluntarily to their country of origin, some were taken to destination countries, and some were deported by Indonesian immigration office.
As of now, there are 1,323 illegal immigrants housed in various locations in Indonesia .
In 2009 IOM recorded 18 illegal immigrants from Vietnam, 159 from Iraq, 6 from Sri Lanka, and dozens more from Afghanistan and Iran.