Illegal migration of Sri Lankan refugees taking ferries from Indian shores to Australia, have been on the rise, despite efforts of Australian authorities to deter them, ‘Daily Mirror’ reported.
Australian Consul General in South India, David Holly told reporters on Tuesday that 1,177 Sri Lankans have been sent back after the country introduced its “no advantage policy” in August last year.
Around 6,000 Sri Lankan refugees went to Australia illegally between June and August last year, and during the arduous journey, thousands of others may have died, officials said.
“Anyone who arrives by boat and who does not engage Australia’s obligations, can and will be returned to their country of origin,” Holly said.
Senior diplomats from the consulate said measures were being taken to discourage people from indulging in human trafficking. Refugees have been requested not to get cheated with such people who make false promises.
“These people smugglers can be very persuasive, but the truth is that they would not care about the refugees once their payment had been settled,” said Australian Immigration officer Jose Alvarez.
If the weather conditions are favourable, the journey to Australia would take 20 days.
To last the journey, the boats in which the refugees are sent are neither seaworthy nor do they have enough supplies and fuel.
Boats often abandon the ones that make it till the end of the journey in Christmas island where they are stranded for hours on end.
“Thousands have lost their lives at sea while undertaking this dangerous journey and we often come to know about it only when their relatives contact us or the Red Cross with a missing report,” added Alvarez.