Daily Mirror - Print Edition

No Sri Lankan boats to Australia in a year: Australia Emergency Task Force Operations

22 Apr 2024 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

Colombo, April 22 (Daily Mirror) - During the launch of Operation ’Disi Rala,’ the joint maritime security effort between Australia and Sri Lanka, Mark Whitechurch, who heads the Emergency Task Force Operation Sovereign Borders, mentioned that they had not spotted any boats from Sri Lanka heading to Australia in over a year.

The essence of Operation Disi Rala stresses the shared duty to protect our maritime surroundings.

Appropriately named 'Disi Rala,' meaning 'keeping a watchful eye over the maritime environment,' this collaborative endeavour involves the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG) working together for a week-long initiative, covering the area from Dikkowita to Chilaw.

Addressing the event, Whitechurch said complex threats such as human trafficking and people smuggling requires intricate and unified solutions. It starts with community involvement, urging them to report any relevant information to the community hotline, 041-7501400. Community tips play a vital role in gathering the necessary leads to effectively combat such crimes.

"This is especially crucial in tackling maritime smuggling threats, which are particularly abhorrent crimes against individuals, and it is our genuine responsibility to prevent such exploitation of our citizens.We understand that smugglers have no respect for human life; their sole focus is on profiting from exploiting vulnerable people. While they may evade capture initially, they will eventually be apprehended and face justice for their crimes. Hence, Australia and Sri Lanka are tirelessly working together to protect people from criminal exploitation," Whitechurch said.

"Our approach is multifaceted and collaborative, focusing on community engagement, raising awareness, strategic communication, intelligence sharing and law enforcement. Consequently, over the past year, we haven't observed any boats from Sri Lanka attempting to reach Australia," he said.

"Now, our operations are proving effective. We're not only saving lives and livelihoods but also dismantling people's smuggling networks. It's crucial to continue these efforts. We must remain vigilant because as long as vulnerable people exist, there will be criminals who seek to exploit them. Our duty is to ensure that doesn't happen," he added.

Pix by Kithsiri De Mel