Thursday, October 22, 2009
Boat Built for Tsunami Victims Used to Smuggle Asylum-seekers
SRI LANKAN asylum-seekers have sailed to Australia in a boat donated by Catholic charities to a devastated coastal community in the wake of the 2004 tsunami.
Thirty-two young, smiling men arrived at Flying Fish Cove at Christmas Island early yesterday after a voyage across the Indian Ocean from the east coast of SriLanka, bypassing Indonesia asa staging post on the perilous journey. A sign on the bow of the boat revealed it to be one of 10 vessels built on contract for Catholic charities Caritas and Misereor to donate to fishermen in a Tamil-dominated region on Sri Lanka's east coast following the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which destroyed many coastal villages.
The latest group of asylum-seekers had steered their boat to within seven nautical miles of Christmas Island when an RAAF P3 plane spotted them just west of the tiny Australian territory about 2.30am local time.
Caritas's eastern human and economic development wing, together with German Catholic charity Misereor, had donated 10 multi-day fishing boats last December to fishermen operating in the Koralaipattu North division, on the border of Batticaloa and the northeastern district of Trincomalee.