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Friday, April 12, 2013 - 6.45 GMT
Sri Lankan boats will slow: SL Envoy in Australia


Sri Lanka's high commissioner to Australia says he doesn't expect a flood of asylum seekers will follow the 66 potential refugees who gobsmacked onlookers with their arrival in Geraldton.

Passengers of the rickety boat that pulled into the busy port in West Australia's Mid West region on Tuesday remain in the country but will be flown to Christmas Island for processing as soon as possible, quoting an immigration department spokeswoman Sydney Morning Herald stated.

The high commissioner, Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe, told Fairfax radio that he expected the asylum seekers would not be found to be refugees and would be sent back to Sri Lanka as soon as possible.

Saying it had been four years since the country's 30 year war ended and denying accusations of ongoing human rights violations against Tamils, he said he believed the Geraldton arrivals wanted to live in Australia "purely for economic reasons".

A single boat slipping through maritime surveillance after no intelligence tip-offs was not serious, Admiral Samarasinghe said.

Any boats attempting a similar journey were likely to be intercepted by the Sri Lankan Navy's cordon and if not, there were no guarantees there would be fair weather all the way to the Australian mainland, he said.

"The success (of the boat that arrived in Geraldton) was due to certain circumstances but it will not give a green light to people to think of taking this road."

He said the Sri Lankan government was spending substantial amounts trying to stop asylum seeker boats leaving and co-operation with Australian authorities was good.

"If the two countries agree, they can do wonders," he said.





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Last modified: April 12, 2013.

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