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* Australia returns 45 Sri Lankan boat people home
Thu, Feb 6, 2014, 11:01 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 06, Colombo: The Australian Government has Thursday returned 45 Sri Lankans who arrived illegally in Australia by boat.

The Australian High Commission in Colombo said in a statement that all 45 detainees were screened out of a protection assessment process.

Eight of the detainees chose to return voluntarily and they may receive help to resume their lives in Sri Lanka by a reintegration assistance program.

The reintegration assistance program is offered only for voluntary returnees. People returned involuntarily do not have access to reintegration assistance.

According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection the returned boat people had no matters ongoing with the Department and the return is consistent with Australia's obligations.

With the latest send-off, since 13 August, 2012, Australia has returned over 1,400 Sri Lankans home.

"We will never allow people who come illegally by boat to settle here," Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison has said.

"Australian Government's message is crystal clear: you should not come because you will not be allowed to stay," he was quoted in the statement.

"Anyone who arrives by boat illegally will either be sent to Papua New Guinea or Nauru, or sent home," Mr. Morrison said.

Under Australia's immigration policies all illegal migrants arriving after 13 August 2012, will be sent to offshore detection facilities in Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea for processing which is expected to take up years.

"The Australian Government does not deal in half measures and has the policies and resolve to fight people smugglers and stop illegal boat arrivals.

According to the Minister, the Australian government will continue to return people seeking to come to Australia illegally by boat.

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