Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA) - Thirteen Iraqi nationals who were stranded in the waters of the southern Indonesian island of Rote Ndao, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province, were shifted by the local police to Kupang on Saturday.

"They will arrive in Kupang on Saturday at around noon local time or at 1 p.m.," the head of security at the Kupang Immigration Detention Center (Rudenim), Melsy Fanggi, informed here on Saturday morning.

The 13 Iraqi asylum seekers, who include children and women, were refused entry into Australian territory, he said.

They were taken to Kupang by ferry and escorted by several Rote Ndao police personnel.

“So, there were seven Rote Ndao police personnel and representatives from the Rote Ndao regional government who accompanied their transfer from Rote to Kupang," he informed.

Upon their arrival in Kupang, they were to be immediately taken to the Kupang Immigration Office for further examination.

"After leaving the Kupang Immigration Office, they will be taken directly to the Kupang immigration's detention center for further processing," he said.

Meanwhile, three crew members from Papela Rote village told NTT police that on December 12 they had met three crew members from Sulawesi who were ferrying the Iraqi immigrants and later handed over the boat with the immigrants on board to the crew from Papela.

The boat carrying the Papela crew members and the Iraqis left for Australia on December 11.

The next day, the boat crew were arrested by the Australian marine police on Ashmore Island, which is known as Pulau Pasir by Indonesian fishermen.

After their arrest, the immigrants were transferred to an Australian-owned ship called Rushani. The Australian customs personnel burned the boat that had carried the Iraqis from NTT.

On December 12 evening, the Australian authorities sent the Papela crew members and the 13 Iraqi immigrants back to Indonesian waters.

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Translator: Kkornelis Kaha, Fardah
Editor: Suharto
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