09/30/2013, 00.00
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21 die in shipwreck off West Java, many from the Middle East

by Mathias Hariyadi
The boat , carrying hundreds of refugees , was headed to Australia. Still uncertainty about the number of deaths. Jump in flow of migrants from Middle Eastern countries : many hundreds since March. Canberra’s ' hard-line'.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Rescue operations continue along the west coast of Java after the Sept. 28 sinking of a boat carrying hundreds of migrants Middle East. The authorities in Jakarta, engaged in providing assistance to victims, reported a toll of 21 dead, 35 survivors and dozens still missing.

The refugees fled mainly from Syria, Lebanon and Iraq . Anonymous sources from the internal security apparatus of Beirut tell AFP that the intensification Syrian immigration in the country is pushing hundreds to seek asylum in Canberra: " It is easy to get an exit visa from Lebanon -says the source - on arriving in Jakarta, illegal migrants reach the island of Java , from where they set sail on boats that take them to Australia . "

In fact along the southern coasts of Indonesia, it is also increasingly common practice among the fishermen who rent their own boat ask for very high sums to ferry migrants to Australia . The vessel which was supposed to bring the refugees to the small Christmas island (Australia), was damaged by strong waves shortly after leaving the coast and sank off the beach Čikole . Jakarta , whose doctors are providing first aid to survivors , has not yet released official statements about the incident .

The drama of the past few days has raised the criticism by the international community on the ' hard-line' chosen by Canberra to deal with the refugee problem . On 19 July, the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - who was replaced on September 18 Tony Abbot - in fact signed with an agreement for the absorption of immigrants Papua New Guinea, prompting the criticism of the Church and the United Nations.  Canberra no longer issues visas to asylum seekers instead it sends them to the Papuan island of Manus , where a detention center is mandated to analyze each request and sort those established as refugees between Papua and other islands of the Pacific.



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