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Fishermen rescued in Indonesia repatriated

Half of 54 Cambodian fishermen scheduled for repatriation to the Kingdom after being rescued in Pontianak, Indonesia, arrived yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The remaining 27 are expected to arrive on June 6, according to a ministry statement.

The 54 fishermen were arrested on April 12 and detained in Pontianak. They were subsequently found to be victims of human trafficking, cheated by brokers who sold them illegally to a Thai fishing boat, where they were forced to work day and night with insufficient food and no pay, according to the statement.

The Cambodian Embassy worked with authorities in Indonesia and the International Organisation for Migration to help them return home.

A total of 573 migrant workers were rescued abroad and repatriated to Cambodia in 2015, according to a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2014, the number was only 134.

The sharp spike in 2015 was largely due to the repatriation of 427 fishermen rescued from Indonesia following an investigation by the Associated Press into the country’s slave-like conditions.

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