Aust ‘obligated’ to help asylum seekers

Refugees     Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor insists the Sri Lankan asylum seekers who managed to reach Geraldton on a boat, and were later returned home, were not genuine refugees.

Of the 66 asylum seekers who reached the West Australian port last week, 38 were returned to Colombo on Thursday.

Mr O’Connor says the remaining 28 will have their refugee claims assessed.

He denied Australia was acting in an ‘injudicious manner’ in returning the failed Sri Lankan asylum seekers.

‘We are ensuring that our obligations in accordance with the (United Nations) Refugee Convention are fulfilled,’ he told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.

Sending the boat’s passengers back to their homeland would send a very powerful message to other people considering the dangerous boat journey to Australia that there would be no guarantees of settlement.

Mr O’Connor said with 46 million displaced people around the world, Australia as a wealthy nation had ‘an obligation to assist’.

‘But we must ensure that when we dedicate resources to provide places for people fleeing persecution that those places must be filled with people who are genuinely fleeing persecution.’

Meanwhile, Mr O’Connor said there was no evidence to support media claims that an asylum seeker boat had been spotted near Arnhem Land on Thursday.

‘The media should confirm these matters before reporting them,’ he said.(Sky News)

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