Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Manpower Ministry thwarted an attempt to smuggle 11 job seekers into Iraq and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to be employed as domestic workers following a raid in East Jakarta this week.

Personnel of the ministry's task force for protecting Indonesian migrant workers traced them in two rented rooms at the Halim Perdanakusuma, Makassar, neighborhood area in East Jakarta on June 17.

The recruits come from different cities and provinces, including Bangka Belitung, Madiun, Pandeglang, Musi Banyuasin, Karawang, Sukabumi, Papua, Lampung Utara, Bandung, Purbalingga, and Cilegon.

The women were recruited and promised to be flown to Iraq and the UAE to then be employed as domestic workers, Manpower Ministry's officer, Suhartono, noted in a statement here, Saturday.

Their recruiters convinced the job seekers that they deserved high salaries by working as domestic workers in Middle Eastern countries, he revealed.

In protecting job seekers from falling prey to human trafficking operations, Suhartono urged Indonesians to seek information on job markets and career opportunities from dependable sources.

"Ensure that the information on overseas job opportunities is reliable by clarifying it with the manpower offices in the job seekers' districts or cities," Suhartono noted.

"They are also able to use the application provided by the ministry on smartphones for seeking reliable information on career opportunities," he stated.

According to ANTARA, the ongoing pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease has tended to increase unemployment rates in several affected nations owing to the economic slowdown.

In this pandemic situation, human trafficking syndicates continue to recruit job seekers.

In March 2020, the Indonesian police in Riau Province had thwarted an attempt by a transnational human trafficking syndicate to smuggle 15 Indonesians and two Indian nationals into Malaysia.

Members of the Malaysia-Indonesia-India syndicate attempted to transport the 17 victims aboard a speedboat through the waters of Sungai Cingam Village in Rupat Island, Bengkalis District.

"The human trafficking operation was conducted from Rupat Island, as the boat could reach the Malaysian territory within 30 minutes," Riau Police spokesperson Sen. Coms. Sunarto had stated last year.

The police arrested five suspects -- identified as AM alias Ahmad, AR alias Abdul, KH alias Irul, HL alias Lina, and SP alias Pian -- who played different roles in the human trafficking operation.

Ahmad served as the boat's skipper, while Abdul and Irul were crew members.

Lina served as the recruiter and enticed the victims to travel to Malaysia by promising them high wage jobs, while Pian coordinated the operation.

The suspects were likely Rupat islanders, according to Suharto. They attempted to take the people, who paid them, by speedboat through the Morong Strait to Malaysia.

The trafficking attempt comes at a time when Indonesian and Malaysian authorities are working relentlessly to tackle the outbreak of COVID-19.

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Translator: Zubi M, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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