Sri Lanka Arrests 40 Boatpeople Headed to Australia

Posted July 6th, 2012 at 5:50 am (UTC-5)
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Sri Lankan police have arrested 40 people, including one woman and two children, attempting to migrate illegally to Australia.

Police say the arrests were made Thursday night as the people were boarding two small boats.

Officials say the detained people are likely the victims of human smugglers.

The arrests come after two boats carrying Australia-bound migrants capsized in recent weeks, killing more than 90 people.

The incidents have rekindled debate in Australia about how to deter thousands of asylum seekers from making the dangerous sea journey each year in overcrowded and sometimes poorly constructed boats.

Australia is a major destination for people fleeing impoverished war-torn countries, such as Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of them are crammed into crowded detention centers on Christmas Island and the Australian mainland.