Australia says the aftermath of the conflict in Sri Lanka is resulting in more and more asylum seekers attempting to cross over to Australia with the latest boatload of 28 Sri Lankans being intercepted today, the Australian Associated Press reported.
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard says conflict in Asia is responsible for the upsurge in asylum seekers headed for Australia by boat.
Authorities intercepted another two vessels over the weekend, taking the total of arrivals to 20 in the first 66 days of the year.
A boat carrying 28 passengers and two crew was intercepted northwest of Adele Island in the early hours of this morning.
Yesterday, authorities intercepted a boat carrying 80 passengers and three crew.
Gillard said the government's border protection policies were tough and the latest asylum seekers were from war-ravaged Sri Lanka.
``If we look at the circumstances for asylum seekers, we are seeing the consequences of civil war in our region,'' Ms Gillard said. "The aftermath of a civil war in Sri Lanka.
``We want Sri Lanka to rebuild and stabilise. In this period clearly there are people on the move.
``We have a tough border protection policy because that's the right thing to do in Australia's interest.''
Both boats are being sent to Christmas Island, where the government is scrambling to increase bed numbers in the detention facilities.
Ms Gillard would not speculate on where asylum seekers would be housed once Christmas Island facility reaches its capacity.
``We are expanding capacity at Christmas Island to meet anticipated needs,'' Ms Gillard said.
``If we look at the numbers of asylum seekers, who come to our shores, we look back over the last 10 or 20 years, the number of asylum seekers is obviously related to international events which gets people on the move.''