Medan Immigration Office deports 25 Bangladeshis

Medan Immigration Office deports 25 Bangladeshis
An Immigration officer (R) uses a mobile phone to photograph Bangladeshi immigrants before deportation through Kualanamu International Airport in Medan, North Sumatra.
PHOTO: Reuters

The Medan Immigration Office on Wednesday deported 25 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who were rescued in waters off Langkat regency, North Sumatra, in May this year.

The immigrants hugged each other and wept as they parted with their fellow migrants, including Rohingya asylum seekers, who have thus far been accommodated at the Berastagi Hotel in Padang Bulan, Medan.

"All the Bangladeshis [...] will be deported in stages. In the initial stage, we deported 25 immigrants today, while the rest will follow when their immigration documents have completed," immigration officer Guntur Simanjuntak said on the sidelines of the deportation at the hotel on Wednesday morning.

The Bangladeshis departed from Kualanamu International Airport at 9:15 a.m. en route to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before traveling onward to Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Guntur said the deportation was carried out after the Bangladesh Embassy in Jakarta issued immigration documents for the illegal immigrants.

He added the deported people were part of a group of 68 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh rescued off North Sumatra.

The deportation of the Bangladeshis was the first such event since scores of migrants were rescued off Langkat in May. They were found by fishermen, together with hundreds of Rohingya as they drifted at sea.

The Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants have been housed at the Berastagi Hotel for more than two months.

Earlier, the immigration office said that as many as 2,005 foreigners had taken refuge and were being facilitated at a number of immigration detention centres in North Sumatra.

The head of the monitoring and law enforcement division at the Class I Immigration Office in Me- dan, Herawan Sukoajo, said 96 of the total were Bangladeshi and Myanmarese refugees who had been stranded in Pangkalan Susu waters off Langkat.

Herawan said the 2,005 people staying at 18 detention centres in North Sumatra were in good health.

He said apart from Bangladeshis and Myanmarese, refugees in North Sumatra also came from several other conflict-hit countries, such as Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia.

Apart from those stranded in North Sumatra, hundreds of Bangladeshi and Myanmarese migrants also arrived in Aceh in May this year.

Earlier, the Aceh provincial administration moved 584 refugees from Bangladesh and Myanmar to a new location in Kuala Cangkoi village, North Aceh regency, to facilitate data collection and prevent decampment.

The relocation was also aimed at preventing the spread of any diseases that the migrants may have contracted during their long voyage at sea.

The stranded migrants were believed to have been on the way to Malaysia when their boat encountered engine trouble and ran out of fuel, leaving them adrift in the middle of the ocean.

Similarly, Bangladeshi migrants currently being held with a group of ethnic Rohingya in Aceh will also be sent home after it was decided the former had fled their country in search of better jobs, rather than to escape political persecution.

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