The Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday nabbed 51 people who were planning to illegally migrate from the island nation to Australia through the sea route, according to an official statement, a fourth such incident in the last one week owing to the ongoing economic crisis in the nation.
According to the Sri Lankan Navy, all those attempting to illegally migrate were arrested after a fishing trawler carrying them was seized in the eastern seas.
“A search operation carried out by the Navy in the eastern seas this morning (03rd July 2022) led to the seizure of a local multi-day fishing trawler carrying 51 persons, who are suspected to be on an illegal migration attempt to a foreign country via sea,” the statement issued by the Navy said.
This was the fourth such incident in the last one week. On Saturday, a team of the Navy, the Sri Lanka Coast Guard and the Police, arrested 24 individuals, all suspected to be illegally migrating to Australia, in Marawila on the western coast.
The arrests came as they were lodged in the locality, awaiting to migrate from the island by sea, the Navy said. Similarly, on June 27 and 28 over 100 Illegal immigrants were arrested.
The police said such attempts to flee the country are due to the ongoing economic crisis and have increased since the early part of this year. The government of Australia for many years now carried out local media campaigns to deter people from falling victims to immigration rackets.
The nearly-bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka's total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion. Sri Lankans continue to languish in long fuel and cooking gas queues as the government is unable to find dollars to fund imports