Human trafficking network targeting Tamil refugees promising Australian citizenship
Sydney, June 15 (ANI): A human-trafficking network has reportedly been targeting Tamil refugees in southern India, promising them safe passage across the Indian Ocean and Australian citizenship on arrival.
Refugee advocates said that at least two boats carrying up to 50 people have disappeared off India's south coast late last year, The Age reports.
According to the report, in the past six months, the number of boats leaving Sri Lanka and southern India for Australian territorial waters have increased with boats intercepted in the past three days at Ashmore Islands, Christmas and Cocos Islands.
This year, 708 people claiming to be from Sri Lanka, many arriving in boats from India, have arrived in Australian waters, the report said.
The UN estimates that more than 140,000 Sri Lankan Tamils have been displaced across 65 countries.
An MP from Indian state of Kerala, K.N. Balagopal, said that international syndicates were preying on refugees who are afraid to return to Sri Lanka for fear of persecution and also know they cannot become Indian citizens.
'"It is not one side, this is international trafficking. These elements are cheating these refugees by promising to send them to Australia and taking their money. But agents from the Indian side can't plan everything, they must have contacts or agents on the Australian side,'" Balagopal said.
Asylum seekers paid between 50,000 and 200,000 rupees for a seat in a boat.
Gladston Xavier, a professor of Social Work at Loyola College in Chennai, said the traffickers had convinced Tamils they would be quickly granted asylum. (ANI)
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