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Hundreds of Vietnamese fishermen stranded in Indonesia amid COVID-19 restrictions December 16,2020   |  Source: BenarNews

More than 200 Vietnamese arrested by Indonesia for illegal fishing in its waters have been stranded in a detention center for months, their representative told Radio Free Asia, a sister agency of Benar News, via emailed video clips.

Many of them are free to go home, but the Vietnamese embassy says the coronavirus pandemic is delaying their return, a Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry spokesman told BenarNews late last week.

The Vietnamese fishermen, meanwhile, hope a social media campaign will spur their government to bring them back.

“About 200 fishermen are being detained at Tanjung Pinang center, many among them have been here for two or three years,” fisherman Ho Van Hieu, who is a representative of his detained compatriots, told RFA, referring to a center in Indonesia’s Riau Islands at the southern end of the South China Sea.

“Now, we hope the Vietnamese government helps bring us home in order to reunite with our families.”

A spokesman for Indonesia’s Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry told BenarNews that during 2020, 225 Vietnamese crew members were arrested for illegal fishing in Indonesia’s Fisheries Management Area.

“Of these, 26 are suspects while 199 are not suspects,” said Didik Agus, the ministry spokesman.

The ministry

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