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Taiwan helps repatriate 105 Indonesian sailors

Sailors were stuck on foreign ships near Taiwan waters after being stranded because of pandemic

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Indonesian sailors board a flight home Friday night. (CNA, MOFA photo). 

Indonesian sailors board a flight home Friday night. (CNA, MOFA photo). 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) helped 105 Indonesian sailors stuck on ships near Taiwan get a flight home on Friday (Aug. 20).

The Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO) in Taipei told MOFA in March there were numerous Indonesian sailors on board foreign ships near Taiwan whose contracts had come to an end, CNA reported. However, because the ship owners and countries were unable to help, the sailors were stuck on board the vessels and could not return to Indonesia.

IETO understood that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan only allowed ship crews with direct links to the country to come ashore. However, because of humanitarian concerns MOFA decided to set up a program to allow the sailors to return home to Indonesia.

A total of 105 sailors and 16 Indonesians residing in Taiwan boarded a flight chartered by the Indonesian government at Kaohsiung’s Xiaogang Airport at 11 p.m. Friday, MOFA said. The Southeast Asian country’s representative in Taiwan, Budi Santoso, visited the airport to see the sailors off.

Taiwan and Indonesia have agreed to launch a dialogue about improving the rights of sailors and fishermen, CNA reported. MOFA said the island nation's concern for human rights and humanitarian principles played a key part in its determination to help the sailors and to safeguard the basic rights of people on ships of any nationality in the waters around Taiwan.