Sri Lankan asylum seekers headed to New Zealand

A boatload of asylum seekers from war-torn Sri Lanka are not welcome in New Zealand, says the country’s prime minister.

The boat carrying 85 Sri Lankans of Tamil descent has been intercepted by Indonesian authorities in the port of Tanjung Pinang, the capital of Kepulauan Riau province.

The group was headed to New Zealand to seek asylum. This is about two years after a big group of 254 Sri Lankans were stopped from entering Australia. The group was intercepted by Indonesian police and on Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd’s request, stopped the asylum seekers from reaching Australia. The group was instead retained and resettled in Indonesia.

This time however, the asylum seekers are refusing to leave the ship. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is in negotiations with the group which is determined to make it to New Zealand.

However New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, says, “Our very simple message to them is they are not welcome here.”

“It confirms what I’ve been saying for some time; it’s only a matter of time before large vessels, steel-hulled vessels capable of navigating their way to New Zealand or Canberra or far away parts of the world, would try and make their way here.”

In the meantime, Britain is preparing to deport 40 Sri Lankan asylum seekers including some reportedly with links to the Tamil Tigers. Britain plans to send them back to their home country which continues to be in the grip of civil war.


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