Gov’t Announces Plan to Repatriate Indonesian Crew Members, Congregation from Abroad
Date 31 Maret 2020
As part of the efforts to protect Indonesian citizens abroad amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Indonesian Government has announced it will repatriate around 11,838 Indonesian ship crew members and 1,145 members of Jama’ah Tabligh congregation.
“President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has emphasized the importance of protecting Indonesian citizens abroad and their health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic as well as safeguarding the territory and people of Indonesia against the possibility of further exposure to the disease,” Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said Tuesday (31/3).
The Government, according to Retno, is aware that almost all countries have restricted the movement of their peoples based on the situation of each country.
“There is no one-fits-all policy. Those policies (implemented in many countries) are bound to affect Indonesian citizens abroad. As Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture said that one of our concerns is to repatriate Indonesian citizens in far greater number than the ordinary mass,” she said.
Retno added that the Government is now focusing on repatriating Indonesian citizens from neighboring Malaysia following the Malaysian Government’s decision to impose movement control of its peoples and Indonesian crew members as a result of temporary dismissal of cruise ships where they work.
Amidst various restrictions that apply in each of these varied countries, the Minister added, representatives of the Republic of Indonesia abroad continue to do their utmost to provide assistance to Indonesian citizens affected by these policies.
“There are more than one million Indonesian citizens who live and work in Malaysia. It’s a big number,” she said.
The Minister further said that a number of Indonesian crew members of cruise ships are working in 80 ships and this number is subject to change.
Some assistance that has been provided by the Government’s representatives abroad is to ensure that the companies they work for fulfill their rights, the Minister added.
“I’ve contacted our Consulate General in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, who was then at the Port of Stulang Laut, to ensure that the process [for those who want to return home] can run smoothly,” she said, adding that that not all crew members will return home given that the minimum safe manning is put in place, meaning that several crew members are still required to continue working on the ship.
“The said numbers are only an estimate. We will continue to update the number,” the Minister said.
The Minister further said that she had also communicated with Indonesian Consulate General in Kuching, Malaysia to continue providing assistance to Indonesian citizens who want to return home via land borders.
Regarding Jama’ah Tabligh congregation, the Minister said there are approximately 1,456 Indonesian citizens who are members of the congregation abroad, 731 of whom are reportedly in India. (UN/EN)
Reviewed by: M. Ersan Pamungkas