(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – With a sharp increase in Sri Lankan illegal migrants to Australia and New Zealand in 2019, Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) has strengthened its surveillance operations with the support of the Sri Lanka Air force (SLAF) and the Australia’s Operations Sovereign Borders (AOSB).
The Navy Spokesman said Lieutenant Commander Isuru Sooriyabandara said on average 64 Sri Lankans had tried to flee the country illegally in the years of 2016, 2017 and 2018.
However, 175 illegal migrants had left Sri Lanka in last year alone, the Spokesman revealed during a press briefing held at the Media Centre, today (02 Jan). The illegal migrants were mainly from Chilaw, Batticaloa, Dondra and Trincomalee, he said.
According to Lieutenant Commander Sooriyabandara, some of those who were trying to flee the country were arrested while they were preparing to flee the country and the majority of them was apprehended in the territorial waters by the Navy following Naval intelligence information.
Mentioning the recent arrest of four persons in Trincomalee trying to flee, he said the AOSB Commander Major General Craig Furini had announced during his recent visit to Sri Lanka that both Sri Lankan and the Australian Governments were sharing a strong relationship and continued to work together to thwart people smuggling operations and to prevent people risking their lives at sea.
The Australian official has warned that the illegal migrants will risk their lives for “zero chance of success”. “Australia’s tough boarder protection policies mean no one who travels illegally by boat will ever be allowed to live or work in Australia,” he has said.
The Navy Spokesman also mentioned that some people had fallen prey to the intrigues by racketeers engaged in this illegal act. Explaining the risk involved in these sea voyages, he further urged the general public not to lose their hard earned money and property by undertaking such risks while tarnishing the image of the country.
Elaborating further, Lieutenant Commander Sooriyabandara said the naval operations have been increased as never before with the help of capable naval personnel and a strong surveillance system. The Navy would seek the assistance of other security services when necessary, he added.