UPF Arrest Five Entering TL Illegally to Avoid Border Shutdown

UPF Arrest Five Entering TL Illegally to Avoid Border Shutdown

The immigration post at Batugade pictured last month, as restrictions began to be implemented (Image/Eugenio Perreira)

DILI, 16 April 2020 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste’s Ambassador to Indonesia has pleaded with expatriates living in the country not to attempt to return, after authorities arrested five students crossing the border illegally.

Authorities shut all ports of entry into Timor-Leste on Monday, in an extension of the State of Emergency, declared to deal with Covid-19.

Alberto Xavier Pereira Carlos (Image/Liputan6)

The number of people infected with virus in Indonesia has doubled in the past 10 days, and some 469 people have now died.

But in a letter, Ambassador Alberto Xavier Pereira Carlos pleaded with his compatriots living in Indonesia to stay where they are.

“If we love our country, our parents, sisters and brothers, we should accept the decision issued by the Government to remain in place where we are now,” Ambassador Carlos wrote.

UPF officers patrolling the border with Indonesia near Batugade (Image/Eugénio Pereira)

The Border Patrol Unit (UPF) said it arrested five Timorese Students attempted to cross the border from East Nusa Tengerra province illegally around 4:00am yesterday.

The students came from Bandung, Jogjakarta and the capital, Jakarta, three areas acutely affected with the virus, UPF Commander João Belo dos Reis said. The five were handed over to health authorities for screening.

Commander Reis said the UPF was working closely with Indonesian intelligence to track potential illegal entrants at the Batugade Border, Covalima District and the Oe-Cusse enclave.

Related news: Covid-19 Cluster at Hotel Katua’s Grows, with Two More Confirmed Cases

The arrests come as a cluster of cases of the virus has developed among a group of students who arrived from Indonesia legally on April 1, prior to the complete border closure on Monday.

Seven students from that group have now tested positive, with some 29 still awaiting results.

Following a video conference with Timor’s ambassadors on Monday, Foreign Minister Díonisio Babo Soares told reporters that people arriving illegally present a risk, because they sidestep the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“Some people are illegally crossing the border. Now, the communities on the border are monitoring those coming illegally, because those coming unreported from the border are propagating [the disease],” he said.

The Minister also expressed concern that many people still do not understand the virus, continuing to hold gatherings and not maintaining social distancing.

“We should be very careful: the outbreak not only has its own impacts, but is also difficult for the state to control,” he concluded.

Read our Tetum coverage here: Estudante Na’in-Lima Tama Ilegál Entrega Ona ba Médiku COVID-19; Embaixada TL iha RI La Fasilita Ona Timoroan no Ema Estranjeiru Atu Tama Mai TL;

Journalists: Eugénio Pereira

Editors: Jordan Borgmann, Robert Baird, Francisco Simões

Translation: Nelia Borges


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