JAKARTA, April 18, 2010 (AFP) – Indonesia is likely on Monday to move scores of Sri Lankan migrants who have refused to leave their rickety boat for the past six months, the foreign ministry said. “Most probably on Monday…. Wait for the details tomorrow,” foreign ministry official Sujatmiko told AFP when asked about the expected move.
He declined to say where the approximately 200 Tamil Sri Lankans camped at the port of Merak on Java island after they were intercepted in October bound for Australia would be taken.
The migrants have said they are fleeing persecution in Sri Lanka following the end of a civil war pitting ethnic Tamils against majority Sinhalese.
It was previously believed they would be flown to a migrant detention facility on Galang island, near Singapore, but another foreign ministry spokesman, Faizasyah, said a team was studying several possible locations
“Wherever they are moved to, we’ll process their asylum application. That’s the commitment from the government and the UNHCR,” said Faizasyah, referring to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The stand-off, along with a similar situation last year involving an Australian customs vessel off