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Many Indonesian workers have died in camp JAKARTA - Nearly 50 illegal Indonesian workers stuck in a refugee centre after fleeing Malaysia have died in the past month from a range of illnesses, and relief workers fear the toll could rise, local media said on Saturday. They said at least 25,000 workers stranded in the Indonesian town of Nunukan, near the border with Malaysia's Sabah state, were getting inadequate food and medical care, while more workers were streaming in each day to avoid tough new Malaysian laws.
The returnees in Nunukan are the latest in a wave of illegals expelled by Malaysian authorities after Kuala Lumpur cracked down on an estimated 600,000 undocumented workers.In Indonesia and the Philippines, popular anger has grown over the policies of their wealthier neighbour and the Indonesian deaths follow reports of alleged deaths of 13 infants during a crackdown on illegal Filipino workers.
Protesters have burned the Malaysian flag and in Manila, demonstrators torched pictures of Malaysian leader Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday and handed out leaflets comparing his government to Hitler's Germany. "Each day the number of illegal Indonesian workers getting sick here increases," relief worker Hariyadi Sastro Atmodjo was quoted as saying by Media Indonesia newspaper.
He said 47 workers had died in the past month in Nunukan, where returnees are taking shelter in tents and government buildings. The official Antara news agency quoted another relief worker, Viktor Ola, who said 49 had died over the same period. Officials in Nunukan, about 1,700 km northeast of Jakarta, could not immediately be reached for comment. The relief workers were quoted as saying thousands of workers were expected to cross from Sabah in the coming days.
"The situation in these centres is getting worse," said Ola. Atmodjo said the death toll would rise if the government did not take action. Those who died were suffering from diarrhoea and other illnesses, the reports said. Malaysia's government gave illegal immigrants, the majority of them Indonesians, until August 1 to leave or face penalties of six months' jail and up to six strokes of the cane. The issue has enraged politicians in Indonesia and underscored some of the latent tensions within Southeast Asia.



Posted in General @ 31 August 2002 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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