The repatriation process of Indonesian citizens (WNI) living and working in Syria has entered a new level. All Indonesian citizens who previously have been accommodated at the Indonesian Mission in Damascus are being moved gradually to Beirut, Lebanon before returning to Indonesia. That was stated by the Indonesian Ambassador for Lebanon Dimas Samodra Rum in Beirut, last Wednesday (26/12/12).
According to Dimas, the security situation in Syria was deteriorating rapidly as reflected by the Alert I warning issued by the Indonesian Embassy in Damascus, and it has prompted the Indonesian Government to repatriate all Indonesian citizens from Syria.
Just like the previous repatriation, the Indonesian Government would continue to use the route of Damascus-Beirut-Jakarta.
“For security reason, even though the administrative process and the return tickets to Indonesia are still being processed, all Indonesian citizens currently taking refuge in KBRI Damascus will be moved gradually to Beirut. At present, they are numbering more than 600 people, however, the number is expected to rise as the conflict in Syria is deteriorating even further”, said Ambassador Dimas.
Turning the Embassy into Living Quarters for WNI
Furthermore, Dimas explained that his office has prepared all the necessary steps and measures to greet the arrival of Indonesian citizens from Syria. To welcome the arrival of 600 Indonesian citizens, Dimas would utilize most of the Embassy’s office spaces. He added further that if necessary the Embassy would lease apartment spaces to accommodate the arriving Indonesians.
“Every resources of the KBRI are being used to assist the repatriation process of our fellow citizens. In accordance with the directive from the Foreign Ministry, the repatriation process will be the main priority for the Embassy in Beirut for the moment”, he said.
Moreover, Dimas explained that 156 WNI had arrived in Beirut on 24 December 2012, and wherein 70 of them would depart to Indonesia on 26 December 2012. Following that, the next wave of 198 Indonesians would arrive from Syria on 28 December 2012.
Approaching the Lebanese Authority to Provide a Longer Duration Visa
Waiting for the administrative process and obtaining tickets to Indonesia obviously would take some time; therefore, the Indonesian Embassy in Beirut has been making approaches to the Lebanese Government to issue entry visas to the arriving Indonesians with duration longer than 2 X 24 hours.
“The good relation with the Lebanese authority has borne fruit, in this case the willingness of the local authority to provide assistance by issuing visa with a duration from 10 days to one month or in another word, a duration that is longer than the normally issued visa”, said Dimas.
Previously, until 24 December 2012, the Indonesian Government has repatriated around 633 Indonesian citizens from Syria through the same route of Damascus-Beirut-Jakarta.
The approaches made by KBRI have persuaded the Lebanese Government to issue free visas with duration of 2 X 24 hours to Indonesians who would be divided into 14 groups of flights.
For visas with duration more than 2 X 24 hours, the Lebanese Government would be charging some fees. “For a transit visa with a duration of 10 days, the cost will be LBP 25,000 or around Rp 158 thousand and a visa with a duration of 30 days will cost LBP 50,000 or around Rp 316 thousand”, said Dimas.
Managing KBRI’s Resources
On separate occasion, the Coordinator for the Repatriation Process Assistance for WNI Syria Team R.A. Arief said that his team has prepared all the technical and logistical supports for the WNI arriving from Syria and during their stay in Beirut.
Furthermore, Arief explained that the Indonesian Embassy in Beirut has taken a number of measures to accommodate the arriving Indonesians including procuring blankets, mattresses and installing partitions in Embassy’s office to be used as a comfortable sleeping quarters.
“The stock of staple foods and other logistics have also been increased to support the need of the WNI in the Embassy”, explained R.A Arief who is also the Head Chancellery and Political Counselor.
Arief also said that besides prioritizing the repatriation of the WNI from Syria, the Indonesian Embassy in Beirut still needed to undertake its other duties in a normal manner and to the maximum; therefore, the management of the Embassy’s resources must be done prudently.
“Managing the available resources including dividing the work load for the staff or turning the Embassy spaces into appropriate living quarters, to accommodate the arriving WNI and as office spaces to carry out other official duties must be done in a meticulous manner so the main role of KBRI as the Indonesian diplomatic mission could continue to the maximum”, said Arief in his closing (source: Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia Beirut/ ed. Yo2k/ trans. Hari).