The US Government plans to contribute approximately $225,000 in emergency victim assistance funds to help support the efforts by the Government of Indonesia and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to rescue hundreds of Myanmar, Cambodian, Lao, and Thai fishermen who are victims of forced labor and stranded in Eastern Indonesia.
Thefinancial aid is in addition to the assistance from existing US Government-supported programs in the region. The United States Mission to ASEAN is contributing $75,000 to the effort. According to an official statement the United States hopes that this tragic case will raise awareness of the issue and contribute to a regional approach to addressing the problem in a systematic manner.
The number of foreign fisherman stranded in Indonesia has risen to 4,000 according to the International Organization for Migration. The fishermen, many of whom are from Myanmar, had sought work on fishing vessels in Thailand before being abandoned by their boat captains after the Indonesian government passed a moratorium on foreign fishing five months ago.About a quarter of the men are in Benjina, a town that straddles two islands in the Maluku chain.
US funding will support costs for case-workers, medical staff, and escorts from IOM Indonesia, as well as direct assistance, which may include medical care, food and water, shelter, and return and reintegration assistance for trafficking victims.