» 06/27/2012 09:30 INDONESIA - AUSTRALIA Boat with 150 refugees shipwrecked off Christmas Island The occupants were headed for Australia, a route used by human traffickers. Last week another boat with 200 refugees sank with more than 90 victims. Canberra demands agreements to curb phenomenon. Asylum seekers come from poor areas or theaters of war such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
/ Agencies) - A boat containing at least 150 refugees to Australia has capsized
north of Christmas Island, a week after a similar incident that caused the
sinking of a boat in the same the area. The
Australian authorities for safety at sea (AMSA) report that early this morning
the boat launched a distress call, answered by two merchant ships in the
vicinity who began the rescue operation of people whose nationality is
addition, two Navy ships and a Canberra reconnaissance aircraft are headed to
the area to help in the rescue operations.
waters that separate Indonesia and Christmas Island are a beaten track for
refugees and asylum seekers who transit through Indonesia and with the help of
unscrupulous traffickers try to reach Australia by every possible means. The
continent is a popular destination for ordinary people, persecuted political
prisoners escaping from poor areas or theaters of war such as Afghanistan, Iraq
and Sri Lanka among others. The
boats used for transportation, however, are inadequate, overcrowded and in poor
condition so any crossing is high risk. In
December 2010, 50 people died in the sinking of their boat off the island.
to AMSA reports, there are some survivors but it has not specified their
number, and the conditions in the area are "good, but not ideal" for
providing relief. The
Australian Prime Minister Julia Jillard intervened on the issue of the how many
refugees were on board: "There are good reasons for believing it - said
the Prime Minister - that there are between 123 and 133 people" and she adds
that " Best estimates
are that 123 were recovered. " The
unspecified number of occupants, Jillard concludes, means that it is not clear
if and how many are currently missing.
week 110 people were rescued in the same area, following the sinking of a ship
full of refugees, with over 200 people on board, the majority Afghan refugees. The
victims are over 90, but rescuers were able to retrieve only 17 bodies. The
drama of boat people and asylum seekers who attempt to cross the seas and land
in Australia are the source of political tension in Canberra between the
majority Labour and Liberal opposition. The
government is demanding for a broad agreement with Malaysia to stem the flow
and contain the emergency.