Off Indonesia Coast: Boat carrying Pakistani, Afghan asylum seekers capsizes

Some of the illegal immigrants were reportedly rescued by local fishermen near Java Island

Muhammad Irfan April 14, 2013
Some of the illegal immigrants were reportedly rescued by local fishermen near Java Island. PHOTO: ARIF SOOMRO/FILE


A boat carrying asylum-seekers from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Australia capsized off the Indonesian coast in the early hours of Friday.

Some of the illegal immigrants were reportedly rescued by local fishermen near Java Island, said Iftikhar Hussain, a rights activist based in Parachinar, the main town of Kurram Agency, which has been plagued by sectarian violence since 2007.

The news triggered panic in Parachinar as around 28 Shia tribesmen had also left their homes late last year and early this year to seek asylum in Australia, Hussain told The Express Tribune by phone.

“Some families told me that their relatives were in Indonesia waiting to catch a boat for Australia,” Hussain said, adding that most asylum seekers from Parachinar prefer the Indonesian route for travelling to Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean.

“Chances are that there would be some members from Kurram Agency on the boat,” another rights activist, Shahid Kazmi said, who talked to right campaigners in Australia, International Red Cross Committee and Pakistani High Commission in Australia. “I am in contact with the Indonesian government but so far have not received any response.”

The Pakistani diplomatic mission in Australia was closed for the weekend. “So far we do not have any information about the incident,” an official of the Pakistani High Commission told The Express Tribune by phone. On June 26, 2012, dozens of tribesmen who were fleeing sectarian unrest in Kurram Agency drowned when their boat capsized off the coast of Australia.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2013. 


SK | 9 years ago | Reply

I feel sorry whenever I read about loss of lives due to perilous journey to Australia. Scrupulous agents promise desperate people a new life and an easy passage to Australia. They probably assure these unsuspecting desperates that as soon as they land in Australian waters they would be welcomed by open arms. Little these desparates know that their real suffering begins then. If they are still alive and are able to reach one of the Australian processing centers. They could be languishing for years in make shift camps with minimum of facilities. People live in a cramp situation like sardines and have to line up to avail basic facilities such as shower and wash rooms. Australian government pays a meagure living allowance in which only basic needs can be met. A much worse life that they escaped from awaits them in those offshore centers. Australia gives priorities to resettle those people declared refugees by UNHCR these boat arrivals are the least priorities to them. There exist an anti boat people sentiments in Australia, the government is sensitive to local sentiments. I have lived in Australia for years , the burden these unwanted arrivals poses to national exchequers is resented widely, moreover most of the boat arrivals are illiterate unskilled people they remain unemployable for years and inadvertently falls prey to social crimes. So please think before you ink. Many who are processed on Australian off shore centers never get to set foot in Mainstream Australia , they are often settled in small pacific countries much worse than the country they escaped from or sent back home with some monetry benefit. only few lucky ones make it. If you have no education or marketable skills Stay home. It's definitely better to struggle and die in an unknown land among strangers than to struggle and make living in your own country despite all odds.

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