KOTA KINABALU: The Covid-19 pandemic is the leading stumbling block in the deportation process of foreigners held at Sabah Immigration Department depots.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Jonathan Yasin said there were 7,161 detainess at the depots based on the latest data.
He said of the total, 6,597 were from the Philippines.
"As we all know, the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic has a huge impact on the entire civil service in general including the Immigration.
"This can be seen in terms of the deportation process of foreign detainees, which has been disrupted by the pandemic," he said at the JIM 2021 Outstanding Service Award Ceremony, at the Sabah International Convention Center (SICC) today.
Jonathan added that there were significant differences in the number of deported Filipino detainees recorded from 2018 to 2022 - there were 10,905 in 2018 and the number declined in subsequent years.
In 2019, 9,610 individuals were deported and in 2020, the number declined to 4,408.
Last year, the number stood at 1,184 and this year only 90 people were sent back.
"The pandemic has led to the closure of borders.
"Therefore, in line with the transition to the endemic phase, we hope the Philippine Embassy will cooperate fully and be able to facilitate the deportation of Filipino detainees.
"It is to enable these detainees to return to their country of origin and live a normal life," Jonathan said.