Dozens of fishermen rescued in Indonesia

By: Cheang Sokha and Ethan Harfenist

Another 59 Cambodian fishermen are set to return to their home country in the next few weeks after they were found on a pair of far-flung Indonesian islands, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said in a statement delivered yesterday that with the assistance of Indonesian authorities, 21 fishermen were rescued from Thai vessels on Ambon Island, while 38 other labourers were rescued from Benjina Island.

“These fishermen have been rescued recently,” said Kuong. “We are trying to facilitate their return to Cambodia as soon as possible, because it will cost more if they stay longer.”

He added that officials involved with the cases have intervened and forced the boat owners to pay the men’s salaries and finance their return trip. The fishermen, likely forced into their positions, are expected back in Cambodia in late May or early June, but as of yet don’t hold passports.

The International Organization for Migration said it was still planning the fishermen’s repatriation.

“IOM is coordinating with the Cambodian Embassy in Indonesia on a number of fisher cases,” IOM Phnom Penh program officer Brett Dickson said in an email. “We are still in the process of identification and the Embassy is still in the process of issuing Certificates of Identification/Travel documents.”

This is the second group of fishermen that have been rescued from Indonesia. Earlier this month, 59 others were brought home.

SOURCE: THE PHNOM PENH POST