Colombo, Feb 12 IANS | 8 months ago

A total of 75 Sri Lankans, including six children, were detained by police while attempting to illegally migrate to New Zealand, an official said here Wednesday.

The group from eastern Sri Lanka had been preparing to undertake a dangerous sea journey to reach New Zealand, Xinhua quoted police spokesman Ajith Rohana as telling reporters.

Sri Lanka has been the source of thousands of illegal migrants or boat people to Australia in the past few years.

Despite the end of a three-decade civil war in 2009, the number of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka has increased, pushing the Australian government to take tough measures to prevent them from reaching that country.

At least 1,500 people have been arrested by the navy while attempting to leave Sri Lanka by boat while the Australian government has returned around the same number as part of a stricter immigration policy.

The Australian government is working closely with the local navy to monitor and stop boat people from Sri Lanka and have implemented awareness programmes to discourage locals from attempting to illegally migrate.

Cooperation on people smuggling has increased since Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott took office in 2013 and fresh arrivals have reduced significantly due to methods used by both governments.

(Posted on 12-02-2014)

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