Monday, June 29, 2009
10,000 Boat People on their way to Australia
INDONESIAN authorities are bracing for a huge influx of boat people, anticipating as many as 10,000 asylum-seekers are waiting in Malaysia to transit through the archipelago and on to Australia.
This estimate was backed by a Malaysian group that deals with unauthorised immigrants. An Australian Government source warned of the potential for a similar influx to the thousands who began arriving in Australia from the late 1990s. About 1500 asylum-seekers have arrived in Indonesia this year and registered for refugee status, almost all travelling by boat from Malaysia. Another 1500 are believed to have arrived and have not registered.
Indonesian police intelligence suggests between 7000 and 10,000 more people are waiting in Malaysia to make the journey once their passage is organised by people-smugglers. They comprise a mix of nationalities, not only Afghans. There are also Sri Lankan, Burmese and Iraqis.