The Indonesian government has stated that a boatload of stranded Sri Lankan asylum seekers would not be towed back out to sea, after local officials had sparked anger by pledging to send them on their way in a rickety craft.
Indonesia Saturday allowed the group of 44 asylum seekers, who were confined for over a week in their stranded boat in Lhoknga Coast in Aceh Province, to come ashore and stay in a military tent.
However, the local officials said they will be towed back to international waters to continue their journey to Australia when their boat is repaired.
Indonesian authorities instead will allow those with genuine refugee claims to stay in Indonesia pending permanent resettlement to another country, and send the others back home, an immigration department spokesman told foreign media.
The group of Sri Lankan refugees, consisting 20 men, 15 women including a pregnant woman and 9 children, has left from India a month ago. They got stranded in the Lhoknga Coast on June 11 when their boat developed engine trouble.