Asylum seekers escape immigration detention center
At least 37 asylum seekers from Middle Eastern countries escaped from the Sidoarjo immigration detention center in East Java on Thursday afternoon.
Officers claimed that the immigrants had asked duty officers for permission to go for lunch at a cafeteria located within the Sidoarjo Police headquarters compound, but failed to return to their shelter.
Local newspaper Surya reported Friday the asylum seekers left their detention cells in groups starting 10:30 a.m.
Around 30 police and immigration officers said that the immigrants were seen entering the cafeteria.
“Some of them entered the canteen but then they left without eating,” one customer said as quoted by Surya.
Deputy Sidoarjo Police chief Comr. Fadli Widiyanto said the asylum seekers left all their belongings at the detention center.
“They asked the immigration officers on duty for permission to have lunch, so that our officers let them go,” Fadli was quoted by as saying tribunnews.com.
Fadli said that the police were investigating the incident.
“We are coordinating with the immigration office to track down their whereabouts,” he said.
The asylum seekers’ stay at the Sidoarjo facility temporarily was intended to be a temporary, stop-gap measure while the immigration office tried to find another shelter.
The Australia-bound immigrants, comprising 29 men, four women, two boys and two girls, were arrested by police at Tlocor hamlet in Kedungpandan village, Jabon, East Java. They reportedly came from Probolinggo using a motorboat, and were en route to Surabaya. They were spotted by police when they tried to rent cars belong to some local residents. — JP