Alexa

Malaysia stops boats carrying Afghans, Pakistanis

Malaysia stops boats carrying Afghans, Pakistanis

Malaysian authorities have intercepted five boats and detained more than 50 people, mostly Afghans and Pakistanis, as they tried to sneak out of the country and sail to neighboring Indonesia, an official said Monday.
An increasing number of people from those impoverished countries pay human smugglers to transport them to Australia via Indonesia, using Malaysia as a starting point for the sea journey.
On Saturday, authorities stopped four small boats, ferrying 15 Afghans, six Pakistanis and 11 Indonesians, on a river in central Selangor state, said Marzuki Ismail, the state's marine police chief.
They were apparently planning to transfer to a bigger boat, which was caught with 21 Afghans already on board, said Marzuki.
It appears the ship was bound for Indonesia's Sumatra island, and the Pakistani and Afghan passengers had paid $1,300 each to agents in Malaysia for the trip. Authorities also arrested three Indonesian boatmen, but two others managed to escape.
Marzuki said the Afghans and Pakistanis had flown into Malaysia with valid travel documents about a week ago. They are now being detained for allegedly trying to leave Malaysia illegally, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. The Indonesians were arrested for also not having valid visas.
In recent months, more than 100 Afghans, Pakistanis and Iraqis who had entered Malaysia legally have been caught embarking on rickety and overcrowded boats for Indonesia en route to Australia. Several boats have sunk, killing more than a dozen people.
All those caught have been imprisoned for several months for immigration offenses before being deported.
Malaysia has stepped up sea patrols but authorities say it is difficult to control the long coastline.
Australian authorities have intercepted 15 boats of asylum seekers this year in its waters in the Indian Ocean. Many of those on board were Afghans and Pakistanis.


Updated : 2021-03-09 18:31 GMT+08:00