Indonesia allows Sri Lankan boat to land

Asylum seekers trying to get to Australia invited ashore, but once boat is fixed to be sent out to sea again

Indonesia allows Sri Lankan boat to land

World Bulletin / News Desk

Just over a week after Indonesia ushered a boat filled with Sri Lankans out to sea, the asylum seekers on board have finally stepped on dry land -- but not in Australia where they wanted to be, back in Indonesia.

The head of the immigration division of Indonesia's law and human rights ministry, Achmad Samadan, said on Sunday that the local government had given them food and tents for temporary shelter.

"All their needs have been fulfilled, be it food or drinks," Samadan said. "We are feeding them three times a day."

The 44 migrants, which include many women and children, were forced to return to Indonesia’s Sumatra Island June 11 after their Indian-flagged vessel broke down en route to the Australian territory of Christmas Island.

Indonesian authorities drew global condemnation by refusing to allow the Sri Lankans ashore, but relented Saturday when huge waves threatened to further damage their boat.

Samadan said the local social agency had built a kitchen to supply meals, and set up the tent not far from the shoreline where their ship ran aground.

Once the engine and hull had been repaired and the weather has improved, the migrants will leave, he underlined.

"After that, they will be guided into the open sea."

One of the migrants, Sudha, told local news portal that they had been at sea for one month after setting off from India.

"It cost a lot of money," the 25-year-old pregnant woman was reported to have said of the lahk rupees ($1483) she says the agent charged.

"For 26 years in India, we could not even have a single house, we were not allowed to look for work," she claimed, of the host country where many Sri Lankans fled during their 25-year civil war.  

"If we go back to India, we will die," she said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Haziran 2016, 17:08