Australia returns 20 Sri Lankan asylum seekers back home

Australian authorities have sent back the 20 Sri Lankan asylum seekers after the boat carrying them on its way to Australia was intercepted.

The Department of Home Affairs and deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack have confirmed authorities intercepted the boat last week and the asylum seekers had been returned to Sri Lanka, The Guardian reported.

According to reports, the vessel, carrying at least one baby, was spotted in the Indian Ocean heading for the north-west coast.

The asylum seekers were detained for a few days on Christmas Island before being flown to Colombo on a government charter jet on Wednesday after their asylum claims were rejected.

The boat had left Sri Lanka in the first week of May, not long after the deadly Easter bombing attacks on hotels and churches.

It is the first time in five years that asylum seekers attempting to reach Australia have been taken by sea to Christmas Island.

The Sri Lanka Navy on May 23 arrested 41 Sri Lankan asylum seekers in deep sea about 715 nautical miles off the southern coast when they were on the way to Australia.

This year alone, Sri Lanka Navy has arrested 71 illegal migrants attempting to sail to Australia.

Australia Border Force said in a statement that Australia had now returned 186 people to Sri Lanka from 10 people smuggling boats since September 2013.

Courtesy: Colombo Page

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