More stranded fishermen come home

More stranded fishermen come home

One of the 69 Thai fishermen reunites with his family. The 69 Thais were arrested and charged with trespassing in Indonesia before being brought home by Thai authorities. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)
One of the 69 Thai fishermen reunites with his family. The 69 Thais were arrested and charged with trespassing in Indonesia before being brought home by Thai authorities. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Another 69 Thai fishermen detained in Indonesia have been released and returned to Thailand, bringing the total number of fishermen brought home to more than 1,200 since October.

The 69 crewmen arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport Wednesday night after being deported for illegal entry into Indonesia. They had been detained on Pontianak island, capital of the West Kalimantan province for six months.

They were reunited with their families and welcomed by Foreign Ministry officials, Pol Maj Gen Thiti Sangsawarng, chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division, and Paweena Hongsakul, head of the Paweena Foundation for Children and Women.

Thirty-nine in the group had directly sought help from the Paveena Hongsakul Foundation while the rest contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some were lured from the seaport in Samut Sakhon province to work on Thai-registered fishing boats operating in Indonesia, Mrs Paveena told a news conference on Thursday.

She said another 13 fishermen are still stranded on Pontianak island, but the repatriation process for them was underway.

The Thai government has, in the past months, accelerated efforts to bring back fishermen who were left in Indonesia as part of its bid to demonstrate Thailand's efforts to fight human trafficking and assist workers who were left in Indonesia for various reasons, including changing fishing policies by the Indonesian authorities.

The Indonesian government recently extended its suspension of foreign fishing boats for another six months from April 30. This means the Thai boats will be docked there until at least October.

The 69 Thais who were brought home last night will be questioned by officials from the Anti-Human Trafficking Division and Ministry of Social Development and Human Security.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said the ministry has brought back home 1,244 fishermen stranded on islands of Ambon and Benjina plus other islands since October last year, including those arriving last night.

He said 150 abandoned crewmen have received certificates to verify their identities and will be returned to Thailand soon.


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