Information on asylum-seeker boats remains foggy – Australia yet to confirm arrival

Information on asylum-seeker boats remains foggy – Australia yet to confirm arrival

Written by Staff Writer

30 Jun, 2014 | 8:10 pm

The Australian Government will not reveal if it has intercepted two asylum-seeker boats that reportedly got into trouble in waters off the Australian territory of Christmas Island last week.

Australia’s public broadcaster, ABC, is now reporting that it understands that two boats were intercepted by navy patrol boats in Australian waters.

International media reports say the asylum seekers are headed to Christmas Island – if that happens, they will be the first arrivals in more than six months.

One of the boats is believed to have departed from India, a country that is not often used as a departure point for asylum seekers heading to Australia.

However, Australian authorities are yet to confirm if they have intercepted or are aware of such a boat or boats, a stance which Australian media reports have contradicted.

Meanwhile, India’s The Hindu reports that neither the marine police nor the District Headquarters Unit of the Indian Coast Guard in the coastal city of Puducherry are aware of the details of a group of about 150 Sri Lankan refugees reported to be stranded mid-sea while on their way to seek asylum in Australia.

The reports also said that the boat supposedly left Puducherry on June 13.

However, The Hindu reported that Puducherry Marine Police and the Coast Guard said such a possibility was remote, given the extensive coastal surveillance that is in place around the region.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, has informed Australian media that Sri Lanka stands ready to co-operate with Australia.

Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe speaking to The Australian newspaper, pledged the Sri Lankan government’s continued support for the border protection policies of Australia, including the swift return of boat people.

Meanwhile, our Bureau Correspondent in Melbourne, Jason Caderamanpulle, provided us with the latest on the situation.

“ The ABC is reporting that more than 150 Tamil asylum seekers, including 37 children, were on board and the boat was intercepted about 300 kilometres west of Christmas Island. Immigration Minister Scott Morrison will not comment on the reported boats, saying that staving people smugglers of information about their boats has successfully stopped them. “

He added: “Speaking to a local radio station, Morrison said no boats have reached Australia. Morrison accused the Labor Party and the Greens of “doing the bidding of smugglers” by asking about the fate of the boats. Regardless, the fate of those who were aboard this boat or boats, if they in fact do exist, remains a mystery. I’m Jason Caderamanpulle reporting for News 1st, from Melbourne, Australia.”

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