An officer of Australia's Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) said today there were zero chances of illegal migration to Australia and added that not a single illegal migrant from Sri Lanka was able to reach Australia since 2013.
Addressing the media on combating illegal maritime migration, OSB Commander Major General Craig Furini said since the setting up of the OSB in September 2013, Australia has worked with Sri Lanka to return 204 people from 12 people-smuggling boats with no-one reaching Australia.
“Do not come to Australia illegally by boats. You have zero chance of success. Our first mission is to stop people from getting into boats and risking their lives. That is why I am here today meeting my colleagues in the Sri Lankan Navy, Coast Guard, police, fisheries and other security agencies to identify how we can do more to counter people-smuggling,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Furini said last month 13 illegal immigrants were returned to Sri Lanka after a people-smuggling vessel was intercepted by Australian authorities. The 13 men were handed over to the Sri Lankan authorities for investigations. They join 25 others from two other vessels who were returned to Sri Lanka after May 2019.
He said this would not be possible without the cooperation with regional partners and in particular with Sri Lanka and added that it was in the interest of Sri Lanka and Australia to counter illegal people’s smuggling.
“Australia’s border protection policies remain strong and unchanged. Between 2008 and 2013, about 50,000 illegal migrants had come to Australia by boats in 810 separate journeys and some 1,200 people died at sea. We will not allow that to happen again,” Maj. Gen. Furini. "We won't stop our efforts to make sure people across Sri Lanka understand that illegal maritime travel is just not worth the risk to their lives or the financial burden and I hope that Sri Lankans can help get that message across."
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Navy Operations Director General Rear Admiral Niraja Attygalle warned illegal migrants not to fall into the trap laid by human smugglers. “Do not waste your money nor lose your lives by trying to go to Australia by boat. The campaign is high and the borders are very tough in Australia. We do our patrolling in our waters and Australians do their patrolling in their waters. So there is zero chance of getting into Australia illegally,” he said
Australian High Commissioner David Holly also attended the news briefing. (Darshana Sanjeewa Balasuriya)