Legislator urges government to fund evacuation of stranded Indonesians

Legislator urges government to fund evacuation of stranded Indonesians

Illustration: Indonesian migrant workers return from Malaysia. ANTARA FOTO/M Rusman

We do not know how long they can survive the situation. We call on the government to do something soon
Jakarta (ANTARA) - A legislator urged the Indonesian government to offer contingency funds to finance the evacuation of Indonesian migrant workers, sailors, and members of Jamaah Tabligh currently stranded abroad amid the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) global pandemic.

"The government must offer contingency funds," Secretary of the Democratic Party Faction at the House of Representatives (DPR) Teuku Riefky Harsya noted in a press statement made available to ANTARA in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Harsya drew attention to three clusters that the Indonesian government should prioritize in its endeavors to save Indonesians stranded abroad amid the rising death toll from COVID-19.

At a virtual meeting with the DPR Commission I overseeing communication, defense, and foreign affairs on Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi drew attention to the three clusters of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, sailors, and members of Jamaah Tabligh.

These Indonesian migrant workers, sailors, and members of Jamaah Tabligh were unable to return to Indonesia owing to a cash crunch. "We do not know how long they can survive the situation. We call on the government to do something soon," he emphasized.

However, Harsya commended the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the assistance extended by its officials to those Indonesian citizens in the form of emergency shelters, staple food items, and medicines.

According to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry, as of April 6, some 44,650 Indonesians in Malaysia had returned to the homeland, while several others of the 1.2 million Indonesians are still residing in the neighboring country.

Only 4,496 of the 16,863 Indonesian sailors abroad were able to return home, and only 10 of the 907 members of Jamaah Tabligh stranded in eight countries, including India, managed to return to Indonesia.

On March 18, the Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Teuku Faizasyah revealed that 10 Indonesians and three Indians were admitted to Gandhi Hospital in New Delhi, India, after one of the Indonesian nationals was suspected to have contracted COVID-19.

The Indonesian nationals belonged to the Jamaah Tabligh group. After their hospitalization, the Indonesian Embassy in New Delhi had urged members of the group from Indonesia to restrict activities.

According to the New Indian Express, the ten Indonesian nationals arrived in Karimnagar, Telangana State, on March 14 from the Indian capital of New Delhi. They stayed at a local mosque.

Riau is one of the provinces in Sumatra Island that received Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia that had returned.

At least 4,444 Indonesian migrant workers had arrived since the fourth week of March until April 1, 2020, according to Head of Riau Provincial Administration's Communication, Information, and Statistics Office Chairul Riski.

The COVID-19 outbreak initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, but it has spread to at least 202 countries and territories, including Indonesia, with a major uptick in the death toll.

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