Protection of Indonesian nationals overseas remains priority in 2021

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has reiterated that protection of Indonesian nationals overseas will remain her top focus in 2021 as dozens of countries worldwide are still reporting a high number of positive coronavirus cases.

“During the pandemic, we have refocused our diplomatic priorities... First, to strengthen the protection of Indonesian citizens; second, to support the national response to the pandemic’s impact on health and socio-economic conditions; and third, to continue contributing to world peace and stability,” Marsudi said as she virtually delivered the 2021 Annual Minister of Foreign Affairs Statement (PPTM) here on Wednesday.

In 2020, the year when more than 120 countries reported coronavirus cases, there was a significant rise in legal and non-legal cases involving Indonesian nationals abroad, the minister noted.

“More than 54,000 cases were handled ... an increase of more than 100 percent compared to 2019,” she said, adding that the protection of Indonesian nationals “goes beyond numbers”.

She also informed that more than 172 thousand Indonesian nationals were repatriated from over 60 countries, including China, and a few cruise ships during the COVID-19 outbreak last year. Indonesia’s government facilitated the return of hundred thousand nationals from overseas as many foreign governments imposed travel restrictions and closed their borders due to the pandemic, she said.

Indonesia’s embassies also distributed more than half a million basic need packages to Indonesian citizens abroad, who were affected by lockdowns last year, Marsudi added. As per the ministry's records, around 2,400 Indonesian nationals overseas tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020, Marsudi noted.

The minister also reaffirmed Indonesia’s commitment to protect its migrant workers, including its seafarers.

“Seventeen Indonesian citizens were exonerated from the death penalty. Four hostages were released, and Rp103.8 billion of Indonesian citizens’/migrant workers’ financial rights were settled (in 2020),” Marsudi revealed.

The minister further highlighted measures taken at the global level last year.

“Upon Indonesia’s initiative and with the support of 71 UN member states on 1 December, 2020, the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution on the protection of seafarers during the pandemic,” Marsudi noted.

In addition to previous measures launched by the ministry last year, the office plans to double its efforts to protect Indonesian nationals overseas this year, she added.

The efforts include increasing the budget for protection programs; upgrading the Indonesian consulate office in the city of Tawau, Malaysia into a consulate general office; creating a ratification map of ILO’s C-188 Work in Fishing Convention; and, signing MoUs on mutual legal assistance with foreign countries to better protect Indonesian seafarers overseas.

The ministry also plans to continue integrating and updating data on Indonesian nationals abroad through its Peduli WNI website, Marsudi added.

Source: Antara News

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