Australia intercepts boats carrying more than 300 asylum seekersMay 7th, 2012 - 6:54 pm ICT by BNO News
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (BNO NEWS) — The Australian Navy on Sunday intercepted three boats carrying more than 300 asylum seekers combined, the government said on Monday. It follows a series of intercepted people smuggling vessels in recent weeks.
HMAS Wollongong, operating under the control of Australia’s Border Protection Command, intercepted two vessels which sought assistance north of Christmas Island. “The (first) vessel was initially detected Saturday by a RAAF maritime patrol aircraft,” said Korena Flanagan, a spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare.
Flanagan said the first vessel was carrying 103 passengers and two crew members on board. The second vessel, which received assistance from HMAS Wollongong after the first vessel was intercepted, was carrying 138 people on board. It was not immediately clear how many crew members were on board the second vessel.
Later on Sunday, ACV Triton, also operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted a third suspected people smuggling vessel north of the Ashmore Islands. “Initial indications suggest there are 64 passengers and four crew on board,” Flanagan said.
The spokeswoman said the more than 300 asylum seekers were transferred to Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean northwest of mainland Australia. “Border Protection Command will now make arrangements for the passengers to be transferred to Christmas Island, where they will undergo initial security, health and identity checks and their reasons for travel will be established,” she said.
So far this year, the Australian Navy has intercepted 2,359 irregular maritime arrivals (IMAs), most of them coming from Afghanistan and Iran who use Indonesia as a transit region. As of March 31, a total of 4,197 people are being held in immigration facilities while 1,712 people have been approved for a residence determination to live in the community.
Australia’s Migration Act 1958 requires people who are not Australian citizens and who are unlawfully in Australia to be detained. This law has been heavily criticized by the United Nations and human rights organizations as many asylum seekers are in detention for months. In 2010, a total of 4,612 irregular maritime arrivals were intercepted by the Australian Navy.
However, the boat journeys made by asylum seekers are not without risk. In December 2010, at least 30 people were killed when a boat carrying more than 90 asylum seekers sank off the coast of Christmas Island. Forty-two people were rescued, while an unknown number of people remain missing.
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- Three dead as Australia-bound refugee boat explodes - Apr 16, 2009
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- Australian Government defers processing of Sri Lankan, Afghan asylum claims - Apr 09, 2010
- Seven kids among dead in Australia boat capsize (Lead) - Dec 16, 2010
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- Indonesia rescues 120 asylum seekers who refuse to disembark - Apr 10, 2012
- Rudd says will review ban on Lankan, Afghan asylum seekers - Apr 11, 2010
- Kids cry for help as 27 die in Australia boat capsize (Second Lead) - Dec 15, 2010
- Australian Navy nabs boats with 54 suspected asylum-seekers - Mar 15, 2009
- Sri Lankan politician arrested for human smuggling - Jul 25, 2012
Tags: acv, ashmore, asylum seekers, australian navy, bno, border protection, christmas island, crew members, home affairs minister, initial indications, initial security, intercepts, korena, mainland australia, maritime patrol aircraft, migration act 1958, raaf, residence determination, sydney australia, three boats