Fishing boat full of asylum seekers intercepted by Sri Lankan navy
A trawler carrying 64 asylum seekers was intercepted by the Sri Lankan navy on Wednesday morning.
The trawler, which was intercepted just off the east coast of Trincomalee, was trying to reach Australia.
The latest crisis has brought the total number of asylum seekers intercepted by Sri Lankan authorities in recent weeks to 350.
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The Sri Lankan Navy said in a statement that asylum seekers were attempting to make long sea voyages to Australia using “ruined fishing boats” and were putting themselves in imminent danger.
“A special operation mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy in the Eastern Seas this morning (June 15) led to the arrest of 64 people suspected of attempting to illegally migrate from the country by sea,” they said.
“Among those apprehended were 50 men, including seven people involved in this racket, 11 women and three children. The suspects detained in this naval patrol are residents of Trincomalee, Mullaitivu and Jaffna. They will be handed over to Trincomalee Port Police. for further legal proceedings.
“The Navy urges the public to avoid being condemned by law by being ensnared by smugglers who persuade innocent people to embark on illegal and perilous sea voyages to emigrate from the island.”
– Sri Lankan Navy
The latest interception comes as the region grapples with an ongoing economic crisis, with the government unable to afford the import of essential medicine, food and fuel.
The economic fallout stems from the government’s mismanagement of the Covid pandemic.
As a new Prime Minister has been elected to help save the country from deepening debt, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has revealed the supply shortage is expected to persist for several months.
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