Asylum Seeker Boats on the Way to Australia's Christmas Island Not 'Significant' --- Scott Morrison
By Reissa Su | June 30, 2014 5:43 PM EST
Australia Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has remained silent on the details regarding reports of an asylum seeker boat stranded about 175 nautical miles from Christmas Island. Morrison only said the issue was not a "significant event" and therefore not worthy of comment.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran cry as Indonesian officers force them to leave the Australian vessel Hermia docked at Indah Kiat port in Merak, Indonesia's Banten province in this April 9, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Aulia Pratama/Files
According to reports, a boat allegedly carrying 153 refugees from Tamil Nadu, southern India on its way to Australia has not been heard for almost two days now. Meanwhile, news of another asylum seeker boat from Indonesia with 50 passengers circulated over the weekend. Both reported asylum seeker boats were heading for Christmas Island, an Australian territory.
The Guardian Australia reported that Gordon Thomson, Christmas Island shire president, said the detention centre had prepared more than 130 beds but there was no sign of a boat arrival.
Morrison has declined to give out any information on the two alleged asylum seeker boats.
After winning the election in September 2013, the Abbott government had vowed to stop asylum seeker boats coming from countries in Southeast Asia. According to reports, hundreds of people have died along the way in their rickety boats.
Under Australia's offshore detention policy, asylum seeker boats are being turned back to Indonesia while refugees are sent to Nauru and Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.
The Greens slammed the Coalition government and Abbott for turning back a boatload of asylum seekers with young children reportedly onboard. Asylum seekers were sent back to Indonesian waters in an Australian lifeboat.
According to reports, the asylum seeker boat was close to Christmas Island when the Australian Navy intercepted it. The people on board were reportedly from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan.
The boats' turn-back has caused tension between Indonesia and Australia after the Australian Navy admitted breaching Indonesian territorial waters. After the turn-back, the Indonesian minister launched another verbal attack and criticised the Abbott government's boats policy.
The United Nations and several refugee advocates have repeatedly denounced Australia's asylum seeker policy. International critics have condemned the plight of detainees in Australia's offshore detention centers due to harsh conditions.
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