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Tamils leave Indonesia en route to Australia -The Australian

[MISC, Tuesday, 29 December 2009 10:45 No Comment]

by Paul Maley

MORE than 30 Tamil refugees who were rescued by the Australian Customs boat the Oceanic Viking have begun leaving the Tanjung Pinang detention centre in Indonesia.

At least 10 of the refugees taken off Bintan island this morning are expected to be flown tomorrow to Australia, where they will join two of their fellow passengers who flew in before Christmas.

Most of the remaining Tamils will be flown to a UNHCR transit centre in Romania, where they will be vetted by Canadian, and possibly American immigration officials before being resettled.

Three are expected to be flown to Norway.

In total, at least 40 of the 78 Viking passengers are expected to leave Tanjung Pinang today.

In addition to the two already in Australia, 13 have already been flown to Romania, taking the number of Viking passengers to have left the island to 55.

Their rapid resettlement was part of a deal brokered by the Rudd Government to ship them off quickly to their new homes in the West in exchange for ending their month-long standoff on the boat.

The 78 were rescued in October and taken to the Indonesian port of Bintan, where they refused to disembark the boat unless they were taken to Australia, their original destination.

The departure today from Indonesia came as another boat carrying suspected asylum-seekers was intercepted off Australia’s north coast, making it the 60th arrival this year.

The stationary vessel was spotted sometime before 7.30am (AEDT) this morning about 140 nautical miles (260km) north of Gove, in the Northern Territory, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said in a statement.

When Border Protection Command crew went to the boat, the passengers said they wished to come to Australia.

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