08/10/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA - AUSTRALIA

Canberra rescues over 200 refugees, set sail from Indonesia

All seek political asylum in Australian territory. On board the boat, intercepted off Christmas Island, citizens from Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Controversy in Australia about the condition of vehicles used to patrol. In 2012 more than 7 thousand refugees received.

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Authorities in Canberra rescued more than 200 refugees, who set sail onboard a makeshift boat from the Indonesia in search of a refuge and political asylum on Australian soil. Official sources confirm that the national coast guard is facing a real emergency in an attempt to stem the tide of boat people. In order to reach the people in time the Navy had to push their vessels to the limits, succeeding to rescue about 211 people adrift near the Christmas Island in Indonesian waters, through a much used route to reach - not without enormous risks - the coasts of Australia.

Chris Bowen, Australian Minister for Immigration, said that "the boat was rescued by the Australian navy" because it encountered "great difficulty". Today's is the largest recovery operation, for the number of persons contained on board a single boat. This year alone at least 7 thousand boat people are able to reach the coasts of Australia, for a total of 108 boats. Higher than the record level in 2010 with 6,555 landings; last year 4,565 refugees arrived.

Among the nationalities on board, according to the minister in Canberra, are citizens of Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the controversy rages in Australia about the conditions of the vessels used to help the refugees. It has emerged that the ship was damaged with serious cracks near the engine and on the bridge. The authorities have not ruled out opening an investigation, and have ordered a check on all 14 vessels comprising the fleet.

The waters that separate Indonesia and Christmas islands are a beaten track for refugees and asylum seekers who transit through Indonesia and with the help of unscrupulous traffickers try to get by every means to Australia. The continent is a popular destination for ordinary people, persecuted, political prisoners, or poor people trying to escape from a theater of war. The boats used for transportation, however, are inadequate, overcrowded and in poor condition for navigation. In December 2010 50 people died when their boat sank off the island.

 

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