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Cablegate: Uptick in Number of Migrants On Way to Australia

VZCZCXRO8869
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1895 3201037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161037Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3839
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 1606
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1630
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0089
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2728
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 001895

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/PD, EAP/RSP, DRL
NSC FOR D.WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF ID AS CE AF
SUBJECT: UPTICK IN NUMBER OF MIGRANTS ON WAY TO AUSTRALIA

REF: JAKARTA 01793 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) This message is Sensitive but Unclassified -- Please
handle accordingly. It was coordinated with Consulate
General Surabaya.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: The GOI is intercepting a rising number
of migrants on their way to Australia. Over 100 Afghan
migrants were detained in two tranches on November 14. In
the meantime, Sri Lankan migrants, who arrived in groups of
78 and 255 in October, remain on their ships close to shore
at sites in Sumatra and Java, respectively. Immigration
officials continue to work closely with UNHCR and IOM to
process the asylum seekers. Concerned that the numbers of
migrants from conflict-impacted regions will only grow, the
GOI is working with Australia on a longer term solution to
the problem. END SUMMARY.

UPTICK IN NUMBER OF MIGRANTS

3. (SBU) Indonesia is dealing with an uptick in migrants.
Indonesian immigration officials have told poloff that the
GOI has intercepted more irregular migrants en route to
Australia this year than in previous years. The GOI is
tabulating figures on the exact number of migrants and will
pass them to Mission when available.

4. (SBU) In the meantime, two separate tranches of Afghan
migrants were detained on November 14. One group was
detained off of Rote Island in eastern Indonesia and the
other off of Banten Province, Java Island. The police
reportedly had to fire on the group of 61 in eastern
Indonesia in order to stop them from moving their boat
further out to sea. The group of 41 was detained as they
were boarding a fishing boat off of Banten. The police
transferred the migrants to local immigration detention
centers. Officials in Rote Island and Banten are scrambling
for funds to feed and house the detainees.

UPDATE ON SRI LANKAN MIGRANTS

5. (SBU) As reported reftel, two groups of Sri Lankan
irregular migrants were intercepted by Indonesian authorities
in October. The first group of 250 is still on a cargo ship
in West Java. Although several members have disembarked for
medical treatment, the majority remain on board waiting for
the GOI to clarify their legal status. In south Sumatra, a
group of 78 Sri Lankans was taken into port in late October.
The UNHCR is processing the 22 who left their ship late last
week. The IOM, in coordination with the GOI, is providing
food for both groups.

NEXT STEPS

6. (SBU) Indonesian immigration officials, in coordination
with Interpol, the national police and the navy, continue to
work closely with UNHCR and IOM to process the asylum
seekers. The GOI is also working with Australia on a longer
term plan to deal with the problem. GOI and local officials
are deeply concerned about the increasing inflow of asylum
seekers, noting that supplies, housing and funds are not
adequate to deal with the growing problem. Local officials
are hopeful that Indonesia and Australia will develop a
workable plan to stem the flow.

OSIUS

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