Refugee standoff in Indonesia eases

Minority of Sri Lankan refugees agree to leave Australian ship moored in Indonesia.

    Some 56 Sri Lanka asylum seekers still refuse to leave the Australian customs ship [AFP] 

    Asked if resettlement would be in Australia, Faizasyah said: "I believe so." He added that the Oceanic Viking had been granted permission to stay in Indonesian waters for another week with the remaining asylum seekers on board.

    Australian reply

    Australian media had reported an agreement had been reached for the refugees to leave the ship in return for resettlement in Australia within four to six weeks.

    Immigration Minister Chris Evans earlier told Sky News said he thought his country would accept the refugees.

    "I would expect us to be taking the larger proportion of the group. We're hopeful some will start to come off soon. I don't expect them all to come off at once but we will hopefully see some movement in the next day or so."

    The standoff has caused a political headache for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has been under pressure over increasing arrivals that have seen more than 1,600 boat people this year seeking asylum from countries such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

    Indonesia has expressed annoyance at talk in Australia of an "Indonesia Solution" to the crisis that would see Australia pay its northern neighbour to temporarily host more Australia-bound asylum seekers.

    Indonesia, which sprawls across 17,000 islands to Australia's north, has been a key staging point for migrants being taken by people smugglers on the perilous sea journey to Australia.

     

    SOURCE: AFP


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