Monday, November 9, 2009

Community housing ruled out for asylum seekers



Indonesia has ruled out housing 78 asylum seekers aboard the Oceanic Viking in community accommodation.

The deal Australian officials have been offering the Sri Lankans aboard the Australian Customs ship involves the promise of quick resettlement and agreement to house the asylum seekers in community accommodation.

However Indonesia is insisting the group of men, women and children be held in an Australian-funded detention centre in Tanjung Pinang, according to the foreign ministry's director of diplomatic security, Dr Sujatmiko.

"We are going to accommodate them in the detention centre. I think this is the normal practice everywhere in the world," he said.

Dr Sujatmiko says it still remains a challenge to persuade the local government to accept them even there.

Indonesia's Foreign Affairs spokesman, Teuku Fozasyah, says he is not aware of any deal that would allow the asylum seekers to avoid being housed in Tanjung Pinang.

The stand-off with the asylum seekers, who are refusing to leave the ship, has entered its fourth week.

Last month Indonesia agreed to take them ashore for processing, but the Sri Lankans have refused to budge, with some throwing notes overboard saying they would rather die than be forced onto Indonesian soil.

Today Mr Rudd repeatedly said protests and threats of harm or self-harm would not alter his government's policy on border protection.

"When it comes to Australia's border protection policy, let me be absolutely clear that that policy of ours in the Australian national interest will not be changed in response to any protests, any threats, any threats of harm, any threats of self harm," he said.

"We will take as long as it takes to resolve this matter and any other matters into the future."

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Rudd will attend an APEC leaders meeting in Singapore this week, where it is expected they will have follow-up discussions.

It is also expected Mr Rudd will talk with other regional neighbours about the problem.

Tags: immigration, refugees, australia, indonesia, sri-lanka

Source :
abc.net.au

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