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The Jakarta Post
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Returning boat people to RI, justified: Indonesian Military

  • Margareth Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, January 7, 2014 | 06:20 pm

Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Gen. Moeldoko said he understood the Australian government'€™s decision to turn back a boat of undocumented boat people attempting to reach its shores.

Speaking to the press at the Defense Ministry on Tuesday, Moeldoko explained that both the Indonesian and Australian governments had earlier agreed to the action: Repelling any migrants who attempted to reach Australia from Indonesian territory and push them back into Indonesian waters.

 '€œFollowing [our] halted military cooperation with Australia, the country'€™s Defense Force Chief called me to discuss several issues, including how to deal with the boat people,'€ Moeldoko said.  

'€œTherefore, we do not need to feel offended,'€ he added.  

As many as 45 undocumented migrants from Africa and the Middle East were found in a boat floating adrift in Rote Ndao waters in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) on Monday after they had failed to reach Australia.  

The migrants consisted of 28 Somali nationals; nine Sudanese; two Eritreans; three Egyptians, and three individuals from Ghana, Lebanon and Yemen. Nine of the total were women while the rest were men.  

Based on information from one of the boat's passengers, Rote Ndao Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hidayat said that the Australian Navy had turned the vessel back toward Indonesian waters after providing them with life vests and communication equipment.  

All the migrants are currently being sheltered at the International Organization for Migration'€™s (IOM) center in Kupang.

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