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More illegal immigrants rounded up in West Timor

Travelers caught as they try to sail for Australia

More illegal immigrants rounded up in West Timor
Immigrants attempting to reach Australia come from various parts of Asia, the Middle East and Africa
Albertus V. Rehi, Kupang

April 26, 2013

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Immigration authorities in East Nusa Tenggara province say 132 illegal immigrants have been arrested this month while attempting to make their way to Australia.

The figure includes 53 apprehended on April 24, from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan. On April 7 a total of 79 others from Bangladesh, Iran and Myanmar were captured.

“They failed to present documents to immigration officers,” said Silvester Sili Laba, head of East Nusa Tenggara immigration office on Friday.

Laba told reporters that Indonesia has three main embarkation areas that are often used by illegal immigrants: Kupang in East Nusa Tenggara province and Tasikmalaya and Sukabumi districts, both in West Java.

“Asylum seekers often choose these places to go to Australia,” he said.

Most immigrants choose Kupang because of its shorter distance to Australia, about 24 hours by boat. According to Laba, they try the other places only if they fail to embark from Kupang.

Muhammad Toyib, an ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar, was one of the immigrants whose journey was suspended this week. He told that he and five other Rohingyans had spent two years in Medan, North Sumatra, before leaving for Kupang five days ago.

“Each of us paid 10 million rupiah (about US$1,052) to an agent. But before we could meet the agent, the police stopped us,” he said.

“I have no money now. But I will continue my travel to Australia.” He added that he and other Rohingya people could not return to Myanmar because of the ongoing conflicts there.

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