A boat is brought to shore after capsizing near Tanjung Balau off the coast of Johor in an accident that authorities said killed at least 19 Indonesian migrants. (Photo: AFP)
By Katharina R.Lestari, Jakarta
Dec 18 2021
At least 17 more are missing as boat carrying about 50 migrants founders in rough seas
At least 19 Indonesians were dead and 17 more still missing on Dec. 16 after a boat capsized a day earlier off the coast of Malaysia.
The boat, carrying about 50 undocumented Indonesian migrant workers, overturned in rough seas near Tanjung Balau off the coast of Johor state on Dec. 15, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said.
Rescuers recovered 11 bodies — seven men and four women — on Dec. 15, the agency said, adding that 12 men and two women were found safe.
On Dec. 16, the bodies of six men and two women were found by search and rescue teams.
Some of the survivors said they were from the Indonesian island of Lombok, east of Bali, and had set sail for Malaysia from Batam, an Indonesian island close to Singapore.
Judha Nugraha, director of the Protection of Citizens and Legal Entities Overseas Department at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, said a team from the Indonesian consulate general in Johor Bahru was working to help identify the dead victims and arrange for their repatriation and the return of the survivors.
There clearly must be powerful human trafficking syndicates in both Indonesia and Malaysia. A thorough investigation to catch those involved in this boat accident must be conducted
Wahyu Susilo, executive director of the Jakarta-based Migrant CARE, said the waters in that area are a notorious graveyard for Indonesian migrant workers seeking work in Malaysia which they believe offers better job opportunities.
“Deadly boat accidents involving Indonesian migrants heading to and from Malaysia often occur in the Strait of Malacca,” he told UCA News.
People are risking their lives with traffickers as obtaining work by legal means is very difficult and bureaucratic, which needs to be addressed, he said.
According to Migrant CARE, between 100,000 and 200,000 Indonesians travel illegally to Malaysia for work each year, many of them recruited by trafficking gangs and subjected to exploitation when they arrive.
Father Chrisanctus Paschalis Saturnus, head of Pangkalpinang Diocese’s Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, accused the government of being aware of the migration issue but not doing anything to protect people from traffickers.
“There clearly must be powerful human trafficking syndicates in both Indonesia and Malaysia. A thorough investigation to catch those involved in this boat accident must be conducted,” said the priest, who is well known in Indonesia for his work in trying to protect victims of human trafficking. – UCANews