"It is true that we have detained 53 Indonesians returning from Malaysia through illegal routes during the past two days, and the figure can increase," Commander of the Yonif Raider 641/Bru Task Force Lt Col (Inf) Kukuh Suharwiyono stated here on Thursday.
Suharwiyono noted that of the total 53 Indonesians, 12 are residents of West Kalimantan, while the rest resided in West Java, Central Java, East Java, and West Nusa Tenggara.
Some of them entered the country through the left side of the Entikong Cross-border Post (PLBN), while others managed to enter from the right side of the post.
The border security task force has intensified surveillance of illegal routes in the border region between Indonesia and Malaysia to prevent the smuggling of goods and people and to prevent further spread of COVID-19, he stated.
Suharwiyono noted that the authority had conducted rapid tests for COVID-19 on the 53 Indonesians before granting health certificates.
"We have applied the health protocols along with officials of the Entikong Port Health Office (KKP). We sprayed disinfectant and checked their body temperature and blood pressure," he stated.
The migrant workers confessed to having worked illegally in the palm oil plantation in Malaysia. However, they lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and attempted to return home through illegal routes, Suharwiyono revealed. Related news: 197 quarantined migrant workers in Batam await returning to hometowns
Related news: Repatriating 4,800 undocumented Indonesians in Malaysia June 6 onwards