Indonesia will deploy more patrol boats to its south in anticipation of an influx of asylum-seekers coming to the country en route to Australia after Navy officers admitted they were ill equipped to cope with the increasing number of undocumented immigrants.
“People-smuggling is becoming our focus now. We will cooperate with Australia to handle this issue. As a quick move, we will deploy more patrol ships to the southern part,” Defense Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Hartind Asrin said on Friday.
He did not detail how many ships will be deployed to the south, saying only that the Navy had begun to send more ships to the waters.
On Thursday, Col. Donar Rompas, the Mataram naval commander, acknowledged that a large number of vessels carrying asylum-seekers began their journeys from West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) because it was the closest point to Australia.
“We need a proper fleet of vessels to be able to patrol NTB waters,” he said.
Just one day after arresting five soldiers and 41 asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia via the coast of West Java, police arrested another 38 foreigners on Friday, according to reports.
The group was arrested after police, following a tip, set up a roadblock in front of the Cisolok subdistrict police station on Thursday. They intercepted a convoy of nine vehicles carrying the asylum-seekers.
“We also detained nine Indonesians who were driving the vehicles,” Adj. Comr, Sumaryoto, the head of intelligence for West Java’s Sukabumi Police, told Antara news agency.
Sumaryoto declined to give further details, saying police were still investigating the case.
Sukabumi Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. M. Firman said there had been a recent increase in the number of asylum-seekers departing from the local coast in an effort to illegally enter Australia. JG