The Navy yesterday said they have strengthened operations in the seas off Eastern and Northern Provinces to curb illegal migration to and from the country.
The Navy so far has curtailed illegal migration of 537 persons this year.
Navy Spokesman Commander KosalaWarnakulasuriya said they intercepted over 14 boats carrying hundreds of people, including women and children, to Australia.
“Most were arrested for attempting to flee to Australia illegally under the guise of asylum seekers,” he said.
The Navy warned those trying to illegally migrate to Australia with the help of human traffickers, to refrain from such activities, stating such attempts would be futile as the Navy is keeping a close vigil. “We are fully aware of their smuggling network,” the Navy spokesman said.
“The victims pay huge of amounts of money to smugglers to take them illegally to another country, but what they do is only risking their lives,” he said.
“Human traffickers transport victims in multi-day fishing trawlers designed for fishing and not for passenger transport. The journey can take a long time. Adverse weather conditions could affect the journey. Sometimes there is not enough food in the vessel,” he said.
Asked why those involved in human trafficking show a greater tendency to use Eastern seaports to launch boats to transport passengers, Warnakulasuriya said it was mainly because of the deserted beaches. “They use these beaches to organise the travel, to bring supplies for those who have paid for their illegal undertaking, to bring them together and other provisions.
Eastern Province beaches are a safe haven for smugglers with the Yala Sanctuary close at hand to hide themselves or their equipments,” he said.