Sri Lanka navy arrests 90 people on Reunion-bound trawler

Vastavam web: Sri Lanka’s navy Tuesday detained 90 people illegally travelling in a trawler bound for the French territory of Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean, a spokesman said. Commander Dinesh Bandara said the fishing boat was seized off Sri Lanka’s west coast and was being escorted to Colombo with 89 men and a woman on board.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that the boat was heading to Reunion Island,” Bandara told AFP. “From there, they may have planned to move to another destination.” However, the number of would-be emigrants leaving the island has drastically declined since Australia in 2013 closed its borders to illegal boat people with a military operation and zero tolerance policy. Canberra’s hardline immigration policy sees asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat processed in offshore compounds on Nauru and Papua New Guinea, with over 30 boats turned back since it began.