Indonesia detains 1,300 migrants this year

JAKARTA, June 16, 2010 (AFP) – Indonesian police said Wednesday that more migrants are landing on its shores this year than before, intensifying the country’s struggle to crack down on people-smuggling. Close to 1,300 migrants were detained between January and June this year, many of whom were trying to reach Australia, national police security and transnational affairs head Saut Usman Nasution told reporters.

“There’s an increase. From 2007 to 2009, only hundreds. In 2010, there were 1,297 people,” he said. “They say they want to go to Australia. They think they will have a better life there but Australia will not accept them.”

More than half of them hailed from Afghanistan and the rest were from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Iraq and Iran, Nasution said.

The migrants, mostly male, were “rich people” who would buy a boat for 100 million rupiah (10,900 dollars) and fork out another 14 million to 20 million rupiah to pay fishermen in East and West Nusa Tenggara provinces to take them to Australia, he added.

“They have a lot of money… They’re willing to pay any amount,” he said.

Indonesia is a key staging post for people-smugglers bringing the migrants on perilous onward sea journ