RI looks into reports of ‘fake’ Syrians

25, Aug 2015 | Author: Embassy of Indonesia

Source  :  Jakarta Post

(Jakarta Post) —

The Indonesian government is probing into reports that its citizens were among the individuals posing as Syrian refugees, traveling from Syria and the Middle East in order to gain access to the EU through the border of Greece and Macedonia.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said on Monday that he would look into the reports that there were Indonesian migrants camping out on no-man’s land between Greece and Macedonia, pretending to be Syrians.

“I have to check the news first in order to get the gist of the story, then I will seek confirmation with our representatives there to see whether they are aware [about the matter] or not,” he told The Jakarta Post. “If there’s a report [about that], then we will get it from our representatives but I haven’t checked yet.”

The AFP reported on Saturday that, among some 2,000 people stranded on the border, hundreds are believed to be from Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Pakistan.

“There are many liars here, claiming to be from Syria,” said Ahmet Mohamet, a 35-year-old Syrian without explaining further.

“They try to trick the police into letting them cross,” he told AFP.

Besides confronting the unprecedented numbers of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, European authorities have also had to deal with the possibility that Islamic State (IS) militants are being smuggled among the refugees.

Libyan government official Abdul Basit Haroun said recently that smugglers were hiding IS militants aboard vessels crammed with migrants.

He claimed this information was based on conversations he had with boat owners in parts of North Africa that were controlled by the militants.

An estimated 514 Indonesians have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with the IS, with around half of them consisting of Indonesian citizens who were already residing in nearby countries as students or migrant workers prior to the rise of IS, according to the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT).

Meanwhile, Greece is giving priority to Syrians when it comes to providing refugees with registration papers and getting them out of the country toward their destination of choice.

So far, most have said they want to go to Germany, Holland and Sweden.

In contrast, other nationalities such as Afghans and Pakistanis have spent weeks on the Aegean islands waiting for permission to sail to the Greek mainland.

Within the border camp there were many Pakistani men who had lived in Greece for years, but with the country’s economic crisis and soaring unemployment, they were seeking a way out.

As far as the Syrians were concerned, the presence of the Pakistanis made things harder for them and their families, which included small children.

“I think we would have had an easier time crossing if this problem did not exist,” Ahmet said.

Macedonia says it has deployed army troops throughout the forested hills that line the 50-kilometer border with Greece.

The bottleneck worsened on Friday when Skopje declared a state of emergency and sealed off the border for 24 hours.

After at least eight refugees were injured in clashes with police, Skopje decided to allow a limited number of refugees to continue their journey.

“It was Iraqis who started that incident,” said a Syrian man who declined to give his name.

“They were throwing stones at the police,” he said, adding that scuffles later broke out between the Iraqis and the Syrians.

On Saturday, as the Syrians once again moved toward the wall of Macedonian police, three men of African origin were among them.

When the Macedonians turned them back, the crowd cheered loudly.

“It would be very simple to solve this issue if the United Nations sent representatives to register us,” said 45-year-old Ratim.

On Saturday, to make a point, around 1,000 Syrians moved away from the rest of the crowd and staged a sit-down protest.

And when approached by the police, they held up their passport to show their nationalities.

“We are living a tragedy. People sleeping on garbage, hungry children crying and no one knows what tomorrow will bring,” said a 30-year-old Syrian man who would not give his name.

“And there are many seeking to take advantage of the Syrian people’s problem, claiming to be Syrian themselves,” he said.

The flow of migrants and refugees into Greece has showed no signs of slowing down.

On Friday, a ferry chartered by the Greek government — the Eleftherios Venizelos — brought to Athens another 2,000 Syrians from the island of Lesbos.

Another 620 migrants of undisclosed nationalities were rescued in 15 separate incidents on Friday alone, the coast guard said. – See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/08/25/ri-looks-reports-fake-syrians.html#sthash.ZtJebFN0.dpuf

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