Jakarta. More than 480 Indonesians who were living or working in Saudi Arabia without the correct documentation have arrived home.
The 482 Indonesians, 64 of whom were children under 12, were welcomed back into the country on Monday.
Nusron Wahid, head of Indonesia's migrant workers agency, or BNP2TKI, said the arrival was the first phase of President Joko Widodo's plan to repatriate migrant workers stranded abroad.
The majority of the migrants were overstayers that had left six to ten years ago, Nusron said in a statement. Most had encountered administrative problems or run away from their patrons.
There were 4.3 million Indonesians working abroad in 2012, according to official data from the BNP2TKI. The real figure, however, was estimated to be at least double that — and perhaps as much as four times as high — according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are the most popular destinations.
Nusron said the government would provide work and entrepreneurship training for the workers, but promised to help them if they decided to return.
"We're now trying to make a new contract with the Saudi Arabian government that includes a new minimum wage and new protection scheme," he said. "We also offer help for those who want to come home.
"We already have a budget to give them protection as well as development in the food industry, creative industry, and tourism."