Saturday, 26 July 2014 - 13:15
Sri lankan asylum seekers to be sent from Australia to India.
The Australian government has struck a new asylum-seeker deal that could result in up to two-thirds of the 157 Sri lankan illegal migrants who have been stranded at sea for almost four weeks aboard an Australian customs boat being returned to India.
The Tamil asylum seekers are now on their way to the Australian mainland, where Indian High Commission consular officials will assess their status before determining how many it will take back in the first such deal with the country.
The vessel set sail from India last month before being intercepted by a customs boat northwest of Christmas Island, outside Australian territorial waters.
But Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has vowed none of the 157 would ever settle in Australia, claiming those not returned to their country of origin, through forced or voluntary repatriation, would be sent to Nauru or Manus Island.
In a move that appears to have side-stepped a High Court injunction to stop the government returning them by sea, as it did with another boat from Sri Lanka intercepted about the same time, Morrison flew to New Delhi to secure a deal with India to take them back.