English.news.cn 2012-11-12 17:36:38
COLOMBO, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- Australia took a tough stance on illegal Sri Lankan migrants here on Monday, insisting that such people would be returned immediately with no hope of funds and should not risk their lives on the high seas, an official said.
Australia's immigration regional director for South Asia Jose Alvarez told media that the government is dedicated to sending back as many illegal migrants as possible and since Aug. 13 has already returned 255 people.
He insisted that the illegal migrants are assessed on a case by case basis in accordance with Australian law and United Nation conventions, which means that any person not covered by Australia' s international obligations will be returned to their country of origin quickly.
"People who pay smugglers are risking their lives and throwing their money away. There is no visa awaiting them on arrival, no speedy outcome and no special treatment," he insisted.
The Australian government is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide reintegration assistance in the form of livelihood training, medical care and even limited monetary handouts.
However, involuntary returnees as well as those engaged in human smuggling will not have access to this assistance.
Moreover Alvarez noted that any information they have on people smugglers will be shared with Sri Lankan authorities to assist in arrests and investigations.
On Sunday, the latest group of 36 asylum seekers was returned but Australian data shows that as many as 377 asylum seekers are still being held on Nauru, where the illegal migrants are being transferred once they land in Australia.
"Sri Lanka has an effective people smuggling network that gives people hope for a better economic life abroad. We have seen that most people attempt to illegally enter Australia due to economic situations, which has been a global trend for many years," he remarked.
Despite the tough stance taken by the Australian government and local publicity campaigns to create awareness, there has not been a marked reduction in illegal migrants with numbers since June topping 1500 people, according to media reports.
Editor: Wang Yuanyuan