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* Australia warns Sri Lankan asylum seekers and people smugglers
Mon, Nov 12, 2012, 11:30 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Nov 12, Colombo: Australia today issued a stern warning to the people smugglers, especially to the Sri Lankans for selling lies to asylum seekers about visa opportunities in Australia.

Australia's warning comes following the return of another 36 Sri Lankan men from Christmas Island late Saturday. Since 13 August, Australia has returned 255 Sri Lankans home, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

Australia's Regional Director of immigration Jose Alvarez speaking to the media during a news briefing in Colombo said his office had noticed a rise in illegal immigrants from Sri Lanka and was taking a hard line.

"Australia was firm in its dedication to sending back as many illegal migrants as possible," he said at the briefing.

Mr. Alvarez said Australia will not take people who do not engage its international obligations.

Australia has especially transmitted a videotaped message, featuring the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, to the Sri Lankan media for broadcast in English, Sinhala and Tamil.

"You will be sent back on the first available flight home so don't waste your money and don't risk your life. If you do not engage Australia's international obligations, you will be returned very quickly," the Australian official said.

"There is no money and no assistance for people sent home involuntarily. Lies and false promises are being told about what awaits people in Australia," Mr. Alvarez stressed.

The Australian Government says it is committed to preventing people from taking dangerous boat journeys. Part of that commitment includes the reinstatement of offshore processing.

"People now arriving in Australian waters on boats can be transferred to either Nauru or Manus Island in Papua New Guinea where they could spend a significant amount of time," Mr. Alvarez said.

According to the official, the immigrants without a valid visa and no claim that engages Australia's international obligations will be quickly returned to Sri Lanka and people returned involuntarily do not have access to reintegration assistance.


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