Sri Lanka’s poor unmoved by Australia’s new boat people policy

UDAPPUWA, September 20, 2013 (AFP) – As Australia’s new government launches tough measures to halt asylum seekers arriving on boats, some dirt-poor fishermen and their families half a world away in Sri Lanka seem undeterred. Although Armugasamy did not fullfil his dream of resettling in Australia, he still hopes the journey was worth it.

The 52-year-old is waiting for a cash handout from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), offered as a incentive to drop his asylum claim.

An IOM official in Colombo said the scheme, funded by the previous Australian government, has supported 160 Sri Lankans who have returned voluntarily since last September.

Armugasamy said he will spend the anticipated $3,300 on a three-wheeled taxi, which he hoped would provide much-needed income to support his wife, three daughters and son. Australia has struggled to manage the stream of asylum-seekers, including from Sri Lanka, arriving on rickety, overloaded fishing boats, with hundreds dying on the risky journey in recent years.

Australia’s Tony Abbott said he would act swiftly to implement a central plank of his election campaign to “stop the boats”, sending a strong signal to people smugglers, after being sworn in as