Sri Lanka unable to stop migrant outflow: minister

October 15, 2009 (AFP) – Sri Lanka said Thursday it was unable to prevent migrants leaving the country, as Indonesia intercepted a boatload of asylum seekers from the island heading for Australia. Media minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said the government could not “stop people from getting into a boat and seeking greener pastures in another country”.

But he told reporters officials were trying to discourage such trips.

A boat carrying about 250 ethnic Tamil refugees was stopped on Sunday on its way to Australia. The refugees were still on the vessel on Thursday and said they had started a hunger strike.