Fitri, Jakarta Globe
Mataram. The West Nusa Tenggara Police have detained 70 asylum seekers bound for Australia, including 50 Vietnamese riding a boat that had been floating in nearby waters for 14 days.
The 50 Vietnamese immigrants, composed of 47 men and three women, were found in weak condition in an Indonesian-flag wooden boat on Alas Strait, which separates West Nusa Tenggara province’s Lombok and Sumbawa islands.
The head of the West Nusa Tenggara Police’s people smuggling unit, Adj. Sr. Comr. Ronny Azawawie, said the immigrants were brought to Kayangan Port in East Lombok and put in a hotel in Mataram. The police have been assessing their health as many of them looked weak and exhausted.
“We’ve provided the 50 immigrants with humanitarian assistance, including medical aid,” Ronny said in Mataram on Saturday, as quoted by vivanews.com.
Ronny also said that the police had recently picked up 20 Middle Eastern immigrants in Jerowaru subdistrict, although he did not say when that happened. Those immigrants were staying in the same Mataram hotel, he said.
All 70 of the immigrants would soon be moved to the East Lombok Police detention center, Ronny said.
This was the fifth such capture of Australia-bound asylum seekers in West Nusa Tenggara this year alone, he said.
Usually, the police hand such asylum seekers to the local immigration office.