Illegal immigrants held at the Immigration Detention Depot in Belantik here say they have been given fair treatment by the government.
Prior to their deportation, they are provided with, among other things, health facilities, food and drinks four times a day, as well as other basic necessities.
An Indonesian woman known as Siti, 40, said she was given good treatment by the Immigration Department despite entering the country illegally by sea.
“Here, we (foreigners) are provided with enough food… I entered Malaysia to work in order to support my two-year-old daughter back in Indonesia,” she said when met by Bernama at the detention centre during an exclusive media coverage of the operation codenamed Ops Benteng.
Ops Benteng is a special operation under the National Task Force (NTF) involving several security forces such as the Malaysian Armed Forces, police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Malaysian Border Security Agency (Aksem) to curb illegal entry.
A survey at the depot found that there was a medical officer on duty from 8 am to 5 pm, while a telephone booth allowed detainees to contact family members back home.
Meanwhile, a male detainee from Myanmar, known as Kyau, praised the Immigration’s treatment of foreigners at the depot.
“Here, everything is provided, including food and drinks…I was detained last year (2019) for not having valid documents, and now I am waiting to be sent back to Myanmar,” said the 23-year-old, who entered the country on foot.
Meanwhile, Kedah Immigration director Zuhair Jamaluddin said the government spent more than RM3 million a year on food and drinks alone for illegal immigrants at the Belantik depot.
“If there are detainees who are sick, we treat them at the depot, but if it involves serious illness, they will be taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
“For example, there have been cases of giving birth at the depot, and the Immigration department assists the detainees by providing the appropriate facilities,” he said.
Zuhair said there are currently 1,187 illegal immigrants at the Belantik detention depot, and the department is in the process of sending them back to their countries of origin with the cooperation of the respective high commissions and embassies. BERNAMA