Thousands Stranded As Indonesia, Others Turn Back Migrant Boats | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Thousands Stranded As Indonesia, Others Turn Back Migrant Boats

Posted: May 19, 2015 at 4:21 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Indonesian military authorities on Tuesday called on local fishermen not to help boats carrying migrants and refugees, unless they were sinking.

Spokesman for the military, Fuad Basya, who made the call in Jakarta, said that passengers may have been deliberately thrown overboard to attract attention.

“The military has deployed four warships and an aircraft to patrol the sea to prevent refugee boats from entering Indonesian territory,” Basya said.

Indonesian fishing boats and marine police rescued almost 800 people late last week from a sinking vessel near the coast.

“Intelligence indicates that they deliberately threw people overboard so that they would be saved by fishermen.

“So we advise fishermen not to take the refugees unless they are drowning or the boats stall,” the spokesman said.

He added that the military would turn undocumented migrants away unless the Foreign Ministry advised otherwise.

Thousands of migrants from Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic minority and Bangladesh were said to be stranded on boats in South-East Asian waters.

Many migrants were believed to be still at sea, possibly with little food after their boats were turned away by Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Basya added that in some cases, the crew had abandoned the vessels.

Meanwhile, he said that the Philippines was ready to help as long as such an initiative is within the scope of the United Nations conventions on refugees and stateless persons.