Pacific Media Watch

30 March 2020

PNG: Pacific coronavirus: Indonesia issues ‘no mercy’ warning on border crossing

Skouw border post between Vanimo in PNG and Wutung in the Indonesian-ruled region of West Papua ... stepping up security. Image: Tripadvisor

By Elias Nanau

PORT MORESBY (PNG Post-Courier/Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch): Indonesia has issued a stern warning over illegal border crossers from Papua New Guinea.

This follows Indonesia stepping up its security measures at the border in response to the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The First Secretary to the governor for West Sepik, Adam Wangu, has already informed people via a social media forum.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera coronavirus live updates: Italy deaths rise by 756 in one day

He was informed by the Papua New Guinean Embassy in Jakarta that police and military personnel are guarding all the entry points that are used by PNG citizens.

“There maybe no mercy if you are caught,” Wangu said.

“Don’t take this message as a joke.”

Four men picked up
This follows an instance where four men from Maprik in East Sepik who were picked up on Thursday in Vanimo as persons of interest after they illegally crossed through the jungle past Wutung into Jayapura to sell their vanilla beans.

Provincial police commander Moses Ibsagi said yesterday West Sepik was on lockdown and a few hinterland areas like Lumi were being monitored by police reservists that had been engaged.

He said frontline service providers such as PNG Power, police, military personnel, health officials, quarantine and customs were still active.

A Consort shipping vessel is expected to arrive in Vanimo with store goods and Ibsagi said the police had issued notice to people to stock food rations.

Police Minister Bryan Kramer, in a press conference on Thursday, said the national operations Covid-19 was considering West Sepik and Western as high risk locations and there would be increased surveillance there to protect the country from any openings for the virus.

The government should make an announcement this week on the deployment.

Indonesia has reported coronavirus infections on the rise to at least 1155 with 102 deaths, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures yesterday.

In Papua New Guinea, there has been only one reported case of an international traveller who has since been airlifted out of the country.

Elias Nanau is a PNG Post-Courier reporter.

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons